Grabbing all of the headlines this week has been the launch of the new British ONE Pro Cycling, led by England cricketer Matt Prior. At the launch in London Brendan Gallagher spoke to former England captain, and keen cyclist, Graham Gooch about his thoughts on Prior’s new venture.

FORMER England captain Graham Gooch has no doubts that Matt Prior will make a considerable success of the ONE Pro Cycling team that Prior launched at Millbank Tower last night – but insists it’s too early to call time on his cricket career.
 
Gooch, who has also worked with Prior when he was the England batting coach, made his way to the 28th floor Altitude Bar for the glitzy team  launch, to support Prior but wants to see the wicketkeeper batsmen keep going out in the middle for a couple of years yet. Prior is currently rehabbing after surgery on a longstanding Achilles problem which has put his cricket career in jeopardy 
 
“I’ve just had a word with Matt now to wish him well in this project but I also told him he’s not over yet as a cricketer, far from it. Not yet, it’s too early” says Gooch who played for Essex, and was scoring first class centuries, until the age of 43. 
 
“Matt still has a huge amount to offer to England and English cricket, he is a very talented, experienced match winning cricketer. If the injury comes good he is definitely good enough to get back in the team and make that place his own again for a couple of years.

 
“This passion for cycling and his involvement with ONE Pro Cycling could actually help him extend his cricket career in my opinion just as I look at Alastair Cook’s involvement in farming as a very good thing.  Sports people can get really tied up in sport, it can become the only thing in their life and that’s not good. 
 
“When you have got something else to focus on it gives you a bit of perspective, you can get away from the cricket and focus on the cycling and then when you come back to the cricket your mind is fresh and uncluttered. It’s a very good to be able to get away from your primary sport and shut off for a while.”

Like many former sportsmen Gooch himself is beginning to get into cycling. Last year he rode in the Essex 100 and this year he will be competing in the Suffolk 100, in fact he is planning his first training ride this weekend now the weather seems to have warmed up a little.
 
For him cycling is all about recreation and keeping fit but he is beginning to follow the top end, competitive side of the sport as well, and has no doubt that Prior will make an impact with ONE Pro Cycling.
 
“I know next to nothing about competitive side of the sport but in my opinion Matt’s particular experience as a cricketer makes him almost the perfect man to be driving a start-up project like this. 
 
“In Test cricket regardless of who is captain the wicketkeeper is the general on the field, he marshals the fielders and bowlers all day out in the field, he is the energy behind the team. Matt  was always vocal at team meetings, a very good talker, motivational and inspiring. 
 
“And tonight here you can see it straight away. He is really leading the project totally into it; he is the engine providing much of the energy for this group of young sportsmen. He is a very positive guy in everything he does. As a cricketer he is a counter-attacker who takes the fight to the opposition and I would be amazed if that doesn’t transfer into this cycling team. They will try and make things happen, I wouldn’t expect any sports team that Matt is involved with to be happy with letting others dictate. 

 
“Matt has always been into the fitness side of sport and the science of it as well. He gets all that and enjoys that side of sport.  Physically as a wicket keeper you are probably the only professional fielder in the side, you have to set the standards in terms of sheer fitness. 
 
“All the other guys either bat or bowl but the wicketkeeper is there primarily to keep wicket for six hours day although you need to achieve a certain level as a batter. His primary role though is behind the stumps and that requires a very high level of fitness. 
 
“As a keeper you have to be on the case from the first ball of the day to the last ball six hours, you are a real workhorse for the team and I can see why Matt equates the wicket keeping job to the workers, the domestiques, in a cycling team. 
 
“So I wish him all the best with the cycling, now and in the future, but I’m also hoping to see Matt back in the middle sometime this summer. And now if you will excuse me I need a quick word with him to see if I can ‘borrow’ one of those lightweight racing machines parked over there in the corner for the Suffolk 100. I need all the help I can get!”