Matt Prior reflected on the vagaries of batting fortune after his match and series-saving innings for England. He scored an unbeaten 110 which ensured that England left New Zealand with a 0-0 draw in the series that looked likely to elude them. It was crisp, to the point and deserved the reward it brought.
“I had a fair bit of luck, I have to admit that,” he said. “But in an innings like that or on a day like that, when you need to save the game, you need luck, you need to play and miss, you need edges to drop short, you need balls to bounce off the stumps and the bails not come off. All that kind of stuff needs to happen for it to go your way.”
Prior’s strangest slice of good fortune was when a bouncer looped off his shoulder and appeared to slide down the front of the stumps. The bails stayed put. He was on 28 at the time. There were other occasions when his aerial shots landed just out of the reach of fielders.
His innings was the subject of two reviews, once when New Zealand thought he had edged a ball behind (he had not) and once when he was certain he edged a ball on to his pads but was given out lbw (he had).
“There were a couple of times I thought, ‘What’s going on here?’” said Prior. “You try to take the opportunities, you try to put it out of your mind, have a laugh. There are so many times in this game when someone will take a half-chance off you or you are given out when you’re not out, when luck isn’t going your way.”
Prior paid due regard to Monty Panesar, who was with him at the end, somehow helping him to negotiate the 19 balls left when England had only one wicket in hand. Panesar was also at the crease when England drew against Australia with nine wickets down at Cardiff in 2009.
Prior also paid tribute to Ian Bell and Joe Root, but he reserved his highest praise for Stuart Broad, who occupied the crease for 77 balls in making six, the first 61 of them scoreless.
“Broady’s innings was phenomenal,” Prior said. “I am so proud of him. OK, he’s my best mate in this team but I have watched him work so hard with Andy Flower over the last two months on his batting. Sometimes he’s got frustrated when he hasn’t got the results. Ignore the score he got today; to bat like he did and take that amount of balls was some effort.”
But it was Prior’s own valiance that allowed England to leave Auckland with dignity and scoreline intact.