Cricket

Matt Prior outlines credentials as world's best in England draw

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Matt Prior can fairly lay claim to the title of the world's best wicketkeeper batsman, and perhaps even the greatest in that position in England's history, as the 31-year-old led a remarkable rearguard and snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against New Zealand.

Prior batted for longer than at any point during his 65 Test career for England, remaining unbeaten for almost four-and-a-half hours on his way to 110 not out as the world's No.2 ranked team somehow avoided defeat against their lowly opponents.

New Zealand had made light work of almost every England batsman than Prior in this third and final Test, and entered the final day of the decisive encounter needing just six wickets to record a memorable victory.

The target of 481 for an England win was never even in question, and day five was simply about whether or not they could prevent a loss in a series they were expected to win comfortably.

Ian Bell and Joe Root began the day at the crease in Auckland with England 90-4, but the young Yorkshireman was dismissed just before the end of an absorbing morning session, while the former was also dropped before the lunch interval.

Jonny Bairstow was the next man to go, caught at first slip off the bowling of Tim Southee, which heralded the arrival of Prior, who had recorded two half-centuries in his previous two innings.

Resisting the temptation to play in his usual counter-attacking mode, Prior dropped anchor alongside Bell, who was dismissed for a battling 75, before Stuart Broad dead-batted his to an important six from 133 balls.

It took Broad 103 minutes to get off the mark, a record for Test cricket, while both he and Prior had lbw decisions overturned during their half-century stand.

England's T20 captain was eventually dismissed Kane Williamson, who snagged James Anderson two balls later, to set up the most tense of climaxes with the much-maligned Monty Panesar tasked with repelling the New Zealand attack.

Panesar was almost run out in comical fashion, but he and prior were abel to stay firm in the final stages to ensure England scraped a draw reminiscent of those in South Africa during the tour of 2009-10.

Prior now has seven Test centuries for England, and his average of over enhances his credentials as the finest batting gloveman to ever represent his country.

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Topics:
Matt Prior
Cricket
Ian Bell
Joe Root
Alastair Cook
Jonathan Trott
Monty Panesar
James Anderson (cricket)

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