Who can be England’s Matt Prior as they battle to save first Test?
England need a Matt Prior.
Six years ago that the then-wicketkeeper-batsman guided England into a improbable draw against New Zealand in Auckland with an unbeaten 110 out of 182 deliveries as the Black Caps fell one wicket short of victory.
The tourists should now bat out day five and require a similar intervention after tumbling to 55-3 after day four at Mount Maunganui to maintain the string all square.
REPORT | SCORECARD | HOW IT HAPPENED
Together with England in need of someone to step up, we consider how Ahead did just that in 2013, when he had been ably supported by Ian Bell, his tailenders and a non-dislodged bond at a finish for the ages…
England were all on the ropes going into the last day of their third and last Test. A succession conquer appeared the most likely result – that had drawn the first two Tests in Dunedin and Wellington – after they had been put an improbable 481 for success at sessions the day before starting proceedings on 90-4.
That target was a notional one, with survival the sole target, however England had already lost the services of Alastair Cook (43), Nick Compton (two ) and Jonathan Trott (37) – there men who might certainly dig in – and nightwatchman Steven Finn (0) daily four. Yep, things seemed bleak…
Step up Prior, who led an epic rearguard actions to thwart the Kiwis – the England vice-captain followed his first-innings 73 having an unbeaten 110 off 182 balls that are stout to steer the tourists.
The wicketkeeper-batsman shared with a stand of 78 with Ian Bell, whose 75 spanned 67, and then 352 minutes together with Stuart Broad, who scored six to shoot time and overs .
Prior did enjoy some great luck during his lengthy stay in the crease – when a shipping from Neil Wagner, who had dismissed Bell prior to tea, deflected on to the stumps as Prior took evasive action. Yet, fortunately for England, the chunk failed to dislodge the bails.
When Broad and James Anderson dropped in the space of 3 balls, stoic Prior and last-man Monty Panesar – who had starred in a similar scenario from the Ashes Test at Cardiff at 2009 – batted out the last three overs in as stressed a finale as you could desire.
Broad needed his head into his hands with Panesar on strike at Trent Boult, probably as England’s No 11 played missed ball!
Panesar retreated his bat perfectly from the second delivery after which drove the third beautifully for the single that got Prior back on strike through mid-off. As England recorded a famed draw, Before taken care of the 3 deliveries.
“This England side do not roll over and die. Fight, fight all of the way, said Bob Willis on comment. “Pure cricketing skill from Matthew Ahead saves the day.”
PRIOR:”I’m not one to celebrate draws but also to escape with that is phenomenal. When Monty walked outside, I said Cardiff 2009. Your role as the in batter would be to assist with game-plans so on – so that we had a very long discussion about how he believed he should counter it and how I believed that he was going to attempt to get out him. To be honest that he thrives on this type of scenario. Is fight. We haven’t played our very best cricketwe know that, but we’ll never stop trying.”
IAN BOTHAM:”It was a marvelous effort. No one gave their wicket away all the way throughout the afternoon and you might see how disappointed amounts nine [Broad] and 10 [Anderson] were when they got outside. What more could you say about Ahead? He’s an exceptional cricketer now. He was magnificent and Broad, following a very shaky start, settled and hung around. It was a top, top work.”
MARK BUTCHER:”The hundred has been stunning. The irony is that you’ve got 140-odd overs to bat to save a Test match and also the man that is quite successful is the guy who goes out there and plays with precisely the same as he would do in any other scenario – i.e. he chooses the bowlers on, goes for his shots and virtually plays a liberty that nobody managed to match. Matt had several close leaks – it was extraordinary how the bails didn’t even move then delivery from Wagner. But nobody can tell me did not despise it. It was a magnificent innings, a true bull-dog performance.”
Things might appear dire for England as they plot an escape 2019 but the pitch is horizontal and also among the wickets to have dropped is nightwatchman Jack Leach. Joe Denly and Root begins off together with Ollie Pope in Addition to Headingley hero Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran to come. Heck, even Broad can play with his part !
Following the summer England needed they shouldn’t be written off and Alec Stewart is backing them to complete a draw. “There is not any reason why they can not, with good character, superior application and good decision making in the photos,” he told The Cricket Debate. “It’ll be very disappointing if England lose this Test.”
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