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

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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there