New Zealand v England: Alastair Cook couldn't watch final overs

England held on to draw the third Test and the series

Alastair Cook's nerves were so shredded by England's great escape at Eden Park that he could not bear to watch the final three overs as Matt Prior and Monty Panesar defied New Zealand.

For the fourth time since July 2009, at the start of that summer's Ashes victory, England today hung on with nine wickets down to somehow salvage a Test match stalemate.

This time, it came on the final evening of the series for good measure - Prior's unbeaten 110 the outstanding performance but number 11 Panesar's occasionally comical assistance plus determined innings too from Ian Bell and Stuart Broad also part of an unlikely last chapter.

Cook, who has witnessed all of those close shaves yet been unable to affect any from the dressing-room, managed the tension until Broad and then James Anderson were out in the space of three balls to Kane Williamson.

At that point enough was enough for the long-suffering captain, who retreated to a dark corner and relied on fitness coach Huw Bevan and England's number three Jonathan Trott to relay an ad-hoc commentary - with replays to follow.

"I was pretty good for the majority of it," he said, drawing breath after Prior and Panesar had kept England's last wicket intact for three overs to close on 315 for nine and secure a 0-0 drawn series. "I watched 95 per cent of it - the last 18 balls I didn't watch, but I was having a running commentary.

"I sat in one place the whole day. Then we lost Broady, and I thought that position had run out of luck - so I thought I'd move."

Cook is grateful for Trott and Bevan's efforts, but does not see a future for either in ball-by-ball broadcast commentary.

The amateur pair were tested especially when Panesar contrived to dive several yards before he needed to and had to paddle his way over the line at the non-striker's end to complete what should have been a routine single to get Prior back on strike against Williamson (four for 44).

He said: "There were a few ooh-arghs, and then a few expletives saying 'what's gone on there?'

"Then we obviously had to sit and watch the replay and started laughing - probably the only thing you could do."

Cook had already spent six hours willing his team on, after they got themselves into a tough spot at 90 for four at start of play in theoretical pursuit of 481 to win.

"It was quite a nerve-racking day, when you can't do anything about it," he added.

"We just kept losing wickets, at intervals. There were two last night, and then obviously two either side of lunch didn't help.

"Then the two just at the end didn't quite help the nerves, walking round the dressing-room in circles."

Bell (75) dug in for almost six hours, and Broad batted against type to use up 61 balls before he even made a run.

But it was wicketkeeper-batsman Prior's seventh Test century which was England's saviour.

"Matt Prior's knock was just outstanding," said Cook.

"Working together with Broady and Belly ... it was a great effort by the senior players, standing up and delivering.

"We've proven to be quite a tough side to beat, which we're going to need over the coming months.

"Ideally obviously, you don't want to be in that situation.

"But when you find yourself behind the eight-ball, the character we've shown today and at other times in this series - and in India as well - can only be a good thing."

Prior had several moments of fortune, to go with his skill - not least on 28 when he deflected a ball from Neil Wagner down on to his stumps off his bat handle only for the bails to stay in place.

"You do need a little bit of luck in those situations, and I suppose we did get a bit," added Cook.

"It was a great knock under a huge amount of pressure. He's had a fantastic winter."

The captain could only shake his head over England's bizarre sequence of last-ditch draws since that Ashes epic in Cardiff, swiftly followed by two in one series away to South Africa.

"It's amazing ... I hope we don't have to do it again," he said.

"With all of them, the tension is pretty much unbearable at the end.

"Obviously, everyone remembers the Australia one - because of how important it was at the time.

"This one, because it's just happened, seems to bring back all those memories.

"It's exactly the same feeling, exactly the same tension - people walking round, finding little spots to sit.

"It's amazing what cricketers do in those situations."

Today's drama inevitably masks, to a degree, what has been a disappointing series for England - after their historic win in India before Christmas.

But Cook said: "Certainly, we came here to win it. So we're disappointed we haven't done that.

"We haven't played as well as we needed to win a Test series. That's the bottom line.

"We fought hard ... but haven't played as well as you need to beat anyone in international cricket.

"We've got to find out the reasons why that is and get back on that horse and get our standards higher."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy