Matt Prior, as vice-captain and wicketkeeper batsman, won three Ashes series and hit 7 Test centuries in an England cricket team that rose to number one in the International Cricket Council rankings. Widely seen as the lynchpin in building a high-performance culture, as well as the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen into the England dressing room, Matt has used his vast experience by moving seamlessly into business and founding ONE Pro Cycling with the ambitious goal of reaching the top tier of world racing.
Matt Prior, as vice-captain and wicketkeeper batsman, won three Ashes series and hit 7 Test centuries in an England cricket team that rose to number one in the International Cricket Council rankings. Matt entered the world of international cricket during a period of transition for England, with many of the senior players retiring amidst a string of heavy defeats.
After a run of poor performances, a slow turn around started to take shape. Key to this was the reinvigoration of the culture within the dressing room – the team was charged with creating its own vision and challenged to hold themselves to account for their professionalism and work ethic.
Matt played a central role in this process, appointed by team captain Andrew Strauss, to manage the culture, create cohesion, and promote understanding of each individuals’ unique motivators. Most challenging amongst this was Matt’s responsibility for the reintegration of Kevin Pietersen, following his infamous exchange of texts with friends in the South African changing room.
A policy of ‘brutal honesty’ was pursued by the team, tackling problems head on and not being afraid to have frank conversations. They also drew from a meticulously prepared play book, allowing them to react to every eventuality and change the outcome, as well as having specific on pitch calls to ensure logic prevailed over emotion.
The cohesion on and off the pitch fostered a period of unprecedented success. In 2009 England regained the Ashes against all expectations, and in 2010-11 won the Ashes on Australian turf for the first time in 24 years. Victory against India in 2011 saw England becoming the number one Test nation in the World, and in 2013 and 2015 they won successive home Ashes. In 2013 Prior was named England Cricketer of the Year
A persistent achilles injury forced Matt to take early retirement in 2015, but his journey has not stopped there. From his hospital bed following his last operation Matt founded ONE Pro Cycling, a pro cycling team with the ambition to take part in the biggest races in the cycling world such as the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
Suddenly finding himself in a business suit in front of potential investors was in part terrifying, but at the same time a completely natural transition. All of the leadership and team work experience absorbed during Matt’s cricketing career could now be applied to building a team and a business brand that had a strong set of guiding values, organisational culture, clear communication and a sense of personal and collective responsibility.
As a leader his ability to inspire people and set a vision has been invaluable. Backed by a multitude of sponsors, with promotion to Professional Continental level already secured in their first year, and with a number of new product based income streams in development, it’s fair to say Matt has his hands full for the foreseeable future.
Matt is a unique sportsperson who can not only talk to audiences about business lessons from elite sport but can also demonstrate them being put into practice in the real world. Matt, in addition to his after-dinner talk, has a powerful leadership, team building and business story to tell.