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Former England keeper’s honest assessment of career transition.
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Despite being one of England’s most decorated wicketkeeper-batsmen, the importance of preparing for life after cricket is not lost on Matt Prior, as he explained to the PCA during its 2019 Futures Week.
Prior, 37, broke onto the international scene when he scored a stunning debut Test century from just 105 balls against West Indies in 2007. He went on to represent his country 157 times, scoring over 5,000 runs across all formats in an international career spanning just under a decade.
A three-time Ashes winner, Prior’s career was defined by success, the highlight being England’s 3-1 series victory down under in 2010-11. However, he is the first to admit the fear that players experience when they are faced with the reality of retirement from the professional game.
“People talk about transition and about when your career comes to an end and what a challenge that is. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played 100 Tests or one Test or no Tests – it’s all the same.
“Every person goes through that same loneliness because the reality is that you are just a small piece and life goes on very, very quickly.
“Mentally, that is such a challenge.”
Prior’s career in professional cricket came to an end in June 2015, when a long-standing achilles problem eventually got the better of him. Subsequent operations revealed that the fact he had took to the field was in itself a miracle.
“I remember waking up and Ben Langley, the England physio, was there. I’ll never forget it. I turned over and saw his face, took one look at him and my first words were ‘is my career over?’
“In an instant you go from being an England cricketer – the England wicketkeeper – to the guy that used to be.”
Initially, Prior focussed his energies on setting up his own cycling team – One Pro Cycling. Since then, he has branched out into sports nutrition with his brand, One Pro Nutrition, supporting athletes such as Ben Stokes, Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor and the West Ham Women squad.
On top of supplying premium energy gels, hydration sachets and recovery products, Prior hopes to expand into the world of sports events as early as next year.
“I feel like going into business has been a mirror of my cricket career, whether it’s the successes, the failures, the learnings or the sacrifices.
“It’s the same as playing cricket – you can’t just start at the top. I’m going to have to work as hard to make my business succeed as I did when I worked my way up to becoming England’s number one wicketkeeper.”
If you’re a PCA member and are looking to build a second career, find out more about our Personal Development and Welfare Programme or contact your designated Personal Development Manager (PDM).
Keep up-to-date with the week’s activities by following the #PCAFuturesWeek hashtag on all of the PCA’s social media accounts.