I took the final catch to retain the Ashes yesterday. Ben Hilfenhaus edged Tim Bresnan and I moved to the left to claim it. I held on to that ball for dear life and even when I got back into the dressing room after all the handshakes and everything, I still had the ball nestled in my left glove.
My right-hand glove was off, but the left stayed on and the ball was still in that glove until well after we got back into the changing rooms. I still have the ball and the argument over it has started already. All I know is that it is something special to take the final catch in an Ashes Test match.
Before we came on this tour I said that to play on Boxing Day at the MCG was my dream. I made sure my family were out here. I've never asked them to come to a game before, not even my debut. It's not that I wasn't fussed, of course I was fussed, but this for me was a real tick in the box.
My mum, bless her, had to sleep on the floor at Gatwick Airport, held up by snow, to get here. Then she had a seven-hour wait in Dubai and then hours somewhere else, but she, my dad, my wife and son made it. To get a hundred would have been a dream so I was devastated to be 15 runs short.
Having said that I did have a big piece of luck early on so I can't be too disappointed. I was caught behind on five and already walking, thinking of the next time, when Aleem Dar, the umpire at the striker's end, stopped me. For a moment I wondered what he was doing and if he thought I had asked for a review. But I would not have done that because I had hit it.
And then when he told me that he wanted to see if it was a no-ball, I was suddenly worried that they might be able to run me out because I was miles out of my ground. But it turned out to be a big no-ball and I was happy with that. All I was thinking about was that it's not the runs you score when you're in form, it's the runs when you're out of form and I knew I had to keep scrapping.
There will be days when you're bowled off your thigh pad and so on, then days where you keep chipping it over the keeper's head. I certainly wanted that hundred and I was pretty upset. I'd played a shot before where the ball stopped in the pitch and again I was a bit early. This time I did it again and I was saying to myself "stay down, stay down, stay down" but the ball just stayed up long enough to be a catch. But that partnership took us from a good position to an unassailable position so it was important and to have played a part in a win like this is something to treasure.
It's a feeling that's very hard to describe. It has been well-reported how tight this group is. For those few seconds it is amazing how everything else disappears. The noise from the Barmy Army and everybody else. Without sounding cheesy or corny in a moment like that being a part of a unit is what it's all about because it hasn't just been a few weeks it has been years of bonding as a group, the hardness of situations that brings you all together, guys not playing and management as well. For those few seconds it is about elation. To retain the Ashes and here we are all together – that's very special.
But there is Sydney to come. It won't be difficult regrouping because we came here wanting to win the series. Already in the dressing room amid all the elation we have spoken about Sydney. We do not want to draw the series. We have played too much good cricket and worked too hard to be content with retaining the Ashes. That's not the way the team thinks. We've always wanted to push ourselves.
Matt Prior supports NatWest CricketForce, the largest volunteering initiative in UK sport, and registrations are now open for 2011. For more info, visit www.natwest.com/cricket and sign up to this month's bulletin