Prior facing the axe

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England's Matt Prior. Picture: David Gray

Perth, Australia – England coach Andy Flower Wednesday admitted out-of-sorts wicketkeeper Matt Prior may be axed for the fourth Ashes Test after Australia raced to an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

Prior, 31, has made just 107 runs at 17.83, with 69 of them coming in the second innings of the second Test in Adelaide when he threw the bat with England's cause already lost.

His woes with the bat have been compounded by this poor keeping, missing two stumpings and a catch on the third day of the third Test in Perth.

This included David Warner on 13, with the Australian opener then going on to make 112.

With the Ashes back in Australian hands with two Tests to go, Flower said he would contemplate replacing Prior with Jonny Bairstow, 24, who has averaged 30.2 from 12 Tests.

“It's a possibility of course,” Flower told reporters in Perth. “Matt Prior has been an outstanding cricketer for England during a second phase of his English career.

“But like all those positions we have to review them. We constantly review what our best side will be and we also have to have an eye to the future as well.

“So we'll meet over the next couple of days and start getting some clarity on those decisions.”

Several senior England players are facing tough questions about their futures after underperforming in Australia, including Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and James Anderson, along with captain Alastair Cook.

But Flower denied the tour could potentially kill off the careers of some players.

“We are going through a tough period as a side now and a number of those individuals you've mentioned are going through tough periods in their careers,” he said.

“It doesn't mean their careers are over. But it does mean they need to call on that experience to help them get out of a tough time quicker than other people.”

Flower himself is yet to pledge his future beyond this series, with his position also under the spotlight.

He accepted responsibility for England's dismal tour so far, with only Tests in Melbourne from December 26 followed by Sydney in early January left for the team to regain some respect.

“Absolutely it's my responsibility so I'm quite comfortable taking that on,” Flower said.

“I think without a doubt I have to look at how we prepared and the decisions we made, and certainly that I've made.

“Learning from our mistakes is very much a part of our ethos of constant improvement and we need to improve quite quickly.” – Sapa-AFP

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