Auckland: Matt Prior was ecstatic after playing a match-saving innings for his side on the final day of the deciding Test against New Zealand at the Eden Park on Tuesday.
The wicketkeeper batsman came at the wicket when England lost their sixth wicket, Jonny Bairstow, at 159. But then he strung two vital partnerships back-to-back, first of 77 runs with Ian Bell and then of 67 runs with Stuart Broad on his way to a magnificent 110 not out off 269 deliveries. Although England lost the wickets of Broad and James Anderson in the same over, Prior held his nerve, along with Monty Panesar, to help England secure a draw.
"It is still setting in to be honest," Prior said after the match. "I am not really one to celebrate draws but to escape with that was a phenomenal effort. It was a phenomenal team and batting effort from the first innings being pretty disappointing. Belly [Ian Bell] going in there and facing near on 300 balls and Rooty [Joe Root] starting off this morning was fantastic. To get over the line was unbelievable."
Prior applauded Broad who curbed his attacking instincts to stay longer at the wicket. "Broady and I have had some really good partnerships in the past and we are best mates off the pitch so we know how to get each other going. What a phenomenal effort from him.
"I was backing Monty the whole time," added Prior. "I had to wake him up first as I think he had been sleeping but Monty was good."