Prior century earns England draw
Victoria 2 for 216 dec (Hill 105*, Hussey 67*) and 6 for 278 dec (Carters 68, McKay 58*) drew with England XI 2 for 184 dec (Strauss 66, Bell 60*) and 6 for 211 (Prior 102*, McKay 4-68)
Matt Prior brought up his first century of the tour and enjoyed some valuable time in the middle, but England's tour match fizzled out to a drizzly draw at the MCG. Despite both captains declaring early in the first innings in an attempt to manufacture a result, the players shook hands with England still 100 short of their target in fading light, ending a grey day that was regularly interrupted by rain.
Prior finished unbeaten on 102 and Andrew Strauss, who batted at No. 8 to allow other men a chance for some time at the crease, was on 22. The morning began with an overnight declaration from Cameron White, setting England 311 for victory, which appeared a generous move until the wet weather drifted across the ground.
However, it was not a day without incident. Jayde Herrick, the new Victorian fast bowler, was ordered out of the attack for bowling too many high full tosses, and Clint McKay ran through the reworked batting line-up to finish with an impressive 4 for 68. For a brief period, it seemed as though Victoria might bowl themselves to victory, but Prior ensured that wasn't the case.
He was in fine touch and struck 12 boundaries, including a crunch through cover off Cameron White to bring up his hundred from his 138th delivery, although he had a life on 61 when he was dropped at short midwicket by Michael Hill. None of England's other batsmen made full use of the opportunity, though, with six men falling for less than 20.
The rain interruptions seemed to have no effect on Prior, who came in at No. 4 in a re-jigged England batting order designed to allow time in the middle for some men who had missed out so far on the trip. Steve Davies was sent out to open but his in-form partner, Alastair Cook, was the first to depart.
Cook played on for 10 when he tried to cut McKay, and the Australian Test bowlers will be hoping it is a sign that Cook can be controlled, though a Test at the WACA will be a different story. Paul Collingwood (8) then provided Herrick with his first wicket for Victoria when the umpire granted an lbw as Collingwood tried to clip the ball through the leg side.
Herrick bowled quick and sent down a couple of sharp and aggressive bouncers, and he also removed Eoin Morgan, who was sent in at No. 5 for his first bat in an England side on this tour. Morgan had 6 when he drove at a wide and fullish delivery from Herrick, and his thick edge was taken by the wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
It was the second catch behind the wicket after Davies edged McKay to White at first slip for 18, which left England wobbling at 3 for 36 and in danger of stumbling to a defeat. But with Prior finding the middle of the bat, England steadied, and he made useful partnerships with Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan, who was caught behind off McKay for 19.
Bell (17) drove on the up to Alex Keath at short cover to hand McKay his fourth wicket, but the rain, and a handy Prior-Strauss partnership, consigned the match to a draw. Collingwood remains the only England Test batsman not to have made a hundred on the trip.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo