New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland, 3rd day March 24, 2013

We do it the hard way - Prior


Matt Prior is adamant that England are capable of recovering from another poor batting display to still emerge with a series win against New Zealand. There was something for them to cling to in the closing stages of the third day in Auckland as they reduced New Zealand to 8 for 3 after they had not been asked to follow-on, but the home side's lead still stands at an imposing 274.

In a manic 13-over period at the end of England's innings and start of New Zealand's second, seven wickets fell for 12 runs. However, the defining passage of the day came much earlier as England slumped to 72 for 5 in the morning session against a swinging ball that they failed to cope with. Of their final total of 204, 101 came in a partnership between Prior and Joe Root, which shows the paucity of what else was on offer.

England are now starring at only their second series defeat in New Zealand unless they can chase down a large total - the highest successful chase at Eden Park is 345 - or bat out time to leave the contest at 0-0. Prior, who has had an impressive match with bat and gloves, tried to keep a sense of perspective about the situation.

"I know it feels like the world's over, but it's not really," he said. "We've got some very good cricketers who can put in match-winning, or match-saving performances. The thing I love about this team is we might do it the hard way, but we fight - and we keep fighting.

"We've shown that in Dunedin and in Nagpur. These are memories we'll pull out and use, and know we have the skill and ability to get something out of this game still.

"We're now in a position where we're going to need a bit of luck and a lot of skill. But if we can get early wickets, who knows? It's still a good deck. We're going to have to bat a lot better, obviously, but we can chase these runs."

This was the second poor first innings that England have put together in the series following their 167 in Dunedin. There was not quite the same gifting of wickets this time - although Prior and Stuart Broad both played loose shots - but English batsmen should be able to combat the moving ball.

"It's not like everyone feels like they're a walking wicket at the moment," Prior said. "We've had a couple of bad days, and it's certainly something we need to address - and we will do. We're going to get another chance in the second innings. That in a funny way is a good thing. You get straight back on the horse."

The key for New Zealand was the pressure they built on England's batsmen - the innings run rate was below two until Prior upped the tempo before the second new ball only to carve to point four deliveries before it was due. Tim Southee and Trent Boult were exemplary, something Prior was keen to acknowledge.

"I know Trent ended up with the most wickets, but I thought Tim Southee bowled a couple of very good spells. Hats off to the New Zealand bowlers."

New Zealand's grip on the contest was challenged when they did not enforce the follow-on, Brendon McCullum following the preferred route these days of not sending a side straight back with a view to giving his bowlers a breather, but they remain one good session away from being almost impregnable.

"To get a rest then look to use the next two days was pretty crucial," Boult said. "We need to push on tomorrow - 30 for 3 wasn't in the plan but to have a 280-run lead is a pretty good position. There were a couple of signs of a bit of up and down going on, so that's pretty exciting to see from a bowling point of view."

New Zealand have not won a home Test series against anyone other than Zimbabwe or Bangladesh since beating West Indies in 2005-06. Victory here, on the back of the South Africa tour and the captaincy controversy, could be a defining moment for these players.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 25, 2013, 17:44 GMT

    @Beige_and_blue on (March 24, 2013, 21:04 GMT) Not flattering at all. NZ had the better of the 1st test although there was a case for EnG had there been a full 5 days and vice versa with the 2nd test. If Eng draw it will be a huge escape

  • Dummy4 on March 24, 2013, 23:43 GMT


    Is Prior by far and away better than McCullum? Or Dhoni?

  • Nicholas on March 24, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    Gosh, it's usually me that hits the panic button after a poor series, but some of these comments are laughable. One more poor series from Broad would have had me screaming for his head, but guess what: he's been one of the best bowlers of the series, and certainly the best for England. Anderson, Finn and Panesar have all disappointed, but it's been a strange series and I certainly wouldn't be rushing for replacements just yet. I wish Woakes and Onions had both performed better at the beginning, and I can understand why patience is running out with Bell but I still like him.

  • Martin on March 24, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    I don't understand the process of deciding which team is best before a ball is bowled and then think up excuses for why they are not winning. These two teams are obviously very evenly matched and a likely 1-nil test series win to NZ is slightly flattering, but deserved after dominance in 2 out of 3 games.

  • John on March 24, 2013, 19:22 GMT

    @USIndianFan on (March 24, 2013, 13:10 GMT) Erm HELLO! - Yes because of our spinners but our main man with the bat was Cook and not KP for sure

    @mikey76 on (March 24, 2013, 17:43 GMT) agree re Finn - his figures in this test were very flattering and while Jonny's return was disappointing , it wasn't as if he played an irresponsible shot or anything. He got out LBW like half the team did.

    @OhhhhhMattyMatty - Maybe Monty isn't cut out for a lone spinner's role but hang on a minute he made a huge difference in India just a few months ago. He's the perfect ally to Swann and I find the talk of putting a T20 specialist in ahead of him baffling. Hildreth had an awful 2011 and a patchy 2012 and needs to improve in 2013 to get a look in

  • Michael on March 24, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    I agree that without KP Prior is the main batsman in this appalling side. Blame for the Aukland debacle can be placed firmly on Cook's shoulders. Blue sky, perfect brown wicket,a bowling attack which has bowled in a follow on,then watched the rain;what was there not to like about batting first? Then he got out young to a ball he could have left. Your baby,Cookie. Beyond that Ian Bell who has scored a massive 750 runs in 17 games (bar one innings) seems the most culpable.Basically he has been a passenger in six series now and no doubt there would be arguments for his retention but day 3 was firmly his baby. He had to deliver or go. Therefore he must go.I am usually a fan. No more. Time for a change. He is in the same position as Gambhir or Sehwag. Time for the axe. We cannot exect Prior to be nanny all of the time,clearing up the toys,wiping the childrens' faces, making the supper and pacifying everyone. We need players with character. Broad showed in the evening he could do it.

  • michael on March 24, 2013, 17:43 GMT

    ohMattyMatty, what has Broad done wrong?? He's bowled well in this match without much luck and took a six for at Wellington.You can't judge Bairstow on one match, he needs a sustained run in the side. Finn has probably been the biggest dissapointment and we have missed Swann badly. Sorry Monty but you are definitely a horses for courses spinner and not an all wicket bowler like Swann. This series has illustrated the gap between us and South Africa. I'm sure they would have found a way to get 20 NZ wickets on these pudding pitches. We simply haven't had enough fire power with the ball and the batsman have been generally off the pace. I still think we will be far too good for Australia but as far as competing with SA then we need to go back to the drawing board. A genuine all rounder at 6 would be a start.

  • Balaji on March 24, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Mitty2, I would still say that this English team is far better than the Australian team. In Cook, Trott, Bell,KP(when he returns) and Prior, England have 4 good batsmen and 1 good scrapper. The bowling attack revolves around Anderson and Swann. Australia don't have a quality batsman other than Clarke. Just look at the average of the Aussie batsmen(mostly in the 30's) and you will know what I am talking about. Aussie bowling will be OK, but right now the batting looks fragile. Also Aussie bowlers are far too injury prone. Most importantly the English will be at home. However let us not rule out a surprise, which looks unlikely.

  • Dan on March 24, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    @ OhhhhMatty - seriously, have a word with yourself, I'm a Kiwi but Eng haven't lost yet and, even if they do, they've played sustained excellent cricket for the past four years and, with India just whitewashing the Dingos, puts the pre-Xmas triumph in India into true (excellent) perspective. As for your suggested changes, Broad took a six-for in the last test and has looked in his best rhythm all Winter in this test, Panesar was superb in India under pressure; he's just bowled too quick in this series but remains a first class intl bowler, Bell is indeed under considerable pressure, Tremlett is rising 32 and played one FC game in the past year (how on earth could you pick him on the basis of that ??) and Bresnan has been completely ineffectual since his first elbow op (averaging 55 per wicket). Why would you bring Davies in for Bairstow when the latter is playing as a replacement batsman in this Test & Prior's by far and away the best keeper batsman in test cricket ??

  • Nikhil on March 24, 2013, 13:10 GMT

    Watching this series, it looks like England won in India partially due to their spinners, Peterson and largely, an India in transition. Looks like an average side otherwise...

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