It’s seven years to the day since Matt Prior salvaged England an unlikely draw against New Zealand at Eden Park.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior mixed stoicism with flair in an innings that saved England from likely defeat in the Test and also the series, his unbeaten 110 from 182 deliveries ensuring that the Black Caps fell one wicket short of victory.
Click on the video above to relive the tension of the final over, then read on for the fuller picture and what some of the key players said…
The teams couldn’t be separated as they headed to Auckland following two drawn Tests, at Dunedin and Wellington. The tourists appeared to have the momentum after asking New Zealand to follow on in the second Test, only for Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor to drop anchor before England’s victory hopes were blown away by the arrival of Cyclone Sandra, which wiped out practically all of the final five sessions of the contest.
BACKS TO THE WALL…
However, it was England on the ropes going into the final day of the third Test as New Zealand’s attack jabbed away relentlessly to add further damage after Peter Fulton’s second century of the Test.
His combined contribution of 246 allowed the Black Caps to set a highly improbable victory target of 481, or more realistically force England to bat for four-and-a-half sessions to draw. At stumps on day four England were wilting on 90-4 with Alastair Cook, Nick Compton and Jonathan Trott, as well as nightwatchman Steven Finn, all back in the hutch.
Step up Prior, who led an epic rear-guard action to thwart the Kiwis. Vice-captain Prior followed up his stout first innings 73 with an unbeaten 110 off 182 balls to steer the tourists to 315-9 and safety, sharing defiant stands of 78 with Ian Bell, whose 75 spanned 352 minutes, and 67 with Stuart Broad who scored six off 77 balls to take valuable overs and time out of the game.
BAIL BAILS OUT ENGLAND…
Prior did enjoy some good fortune during his stay at the crease – most noticeably when a short ball from Neil Wagner, who had dismissed Bell prior to tea, deflected on to the stumps as Prior took evasive action but failed to dislodge the bails.
When Broad and James Anderson fell in the space of three balls, stoic Prior and last-man Monty Panesar batted out the final three overs in as tense a finale as you could wish for.
THE FINAL OVER…
Broad had his head in his hands with Panesar on strike to Trent Boult, probably even more so as England’s No 11 played and missed first ball!
Panesar withdrew his bat perfectly from the second delivery and then drove the third beautifully through mid-off for the single that got Prior back on strike. Prior then dealt with the final three deliveries as England recorded a famous draw.
WHAT THEY SAID…
PRIOR: “I’m not one to celebrate draws but to escape with that is phenomenal. When Monty first walked out, I mentioned Cardiff 2009. Your role as the in batter is to help out with game-plans and so on – so we had a long chat about how I thought he was going to try to get him out. And how he thought he should counter it. But to be honest he thrives on that sort of situation. I said a couple of days ago that the one thing this team will do is fight. We haven’t played our best cricket, we know that, but we’ll never give up.”
IAN BOTHAM: “It was a magnificent effort. No-one gave their wicket away all the way through the day and you could see how disappointed numbers nine [Broad] and 10 [Anderson] were when they got out.
“What more can you say about Matt Prior? He is an exceptional cricketer now. He was absolutely magnificent and Stuart Broad, after a very shaky start, settled in and hung around. It was a top, top effort.”
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