Prior pleased not to bow to Victoria
Matt Prior was delighted to preserve England’s unbeaten record on their tour of Australia as his hundred secured a draw against Victoria at the MCG.
Prior struck an unbeaten 102 from 145 deliveries, featuring 12 fours, after the tourists’ top-order stuttered in pursuit of 311 to win.
The wicketkeeper-batsman raced to a half-century in just 47 balls but, once he and Andrew Strauss decided to shut up shop after tea, took 20 overs to progress from 75 to three figures.
While Prior would have naturally preferred victory in Melbourne, he was happy to help his side recover from 78 for four after a rain-reduced morning session.
"Going into lunch, we were adamant we were not losing this game," he said after a draw was agreed with England six wickets down and 100 short of their target.
"Winning is a habit, and one you want to protect; if we'd lost today, we'd be very, very disappointed people."
Strass' side were abundantly aware of the need to keep their collective confidence intact as they prepare to consolidate their 1-0 Ashes lead, with three to play.
They head to Perth tomorrow for the third Test, having trounced Australia by an innings in Adelaide last week.
"You can't take for granted being on a good run. Sometimes you have to dig in and make sure you continue it," Prior added.
"You could go on playing your shots and potentially risk losing the game ... we didn't want to do that.
"We were hell bent we were going to get through the day."
Prior and Strauss, who dropped himself down to number eight, gradually put on an unbroken 62 in 23 overs as the match crawled to a stalemate, which was finally agreed before the last hour.
"Unfortunately, it was attritional and pretty boring cricket for everyone to watch - but sometimes it has to be done," said Prior.
"It wasn't pleasant for anyone, but we got through and walked off with a draw."
The challenge now for England is to continue a run of three draws and three victories from six matches so far this winter.
Asked if they can do so, Prior insisted: "You'd like to think so. If we carry on playing the brand of cricket we have been there's no reason why we can't go through the tour unbeaten.
"If we can manage to do that, it would be a fantastic feat - but something we're certainly targeting."
The tourists are likely to play on a much quicker pitch at the WACA next week, but Prior was still pleased to spend time in the middle in Melbourne.
"For me personally, it was perfect preparation for next week,” he revealed.
"You have the huge crowds, the Ashes Test, adrenaline is going - and it doesn't take a lot for you to be very up for it.
"To come into this game, you have to do a bit of soul-searching, and get yourself going. You can't rely on anyone else, or the crowds or anything.
"It is a challenge, and one that is actually quite tough at times - but something you have to do.
"You can't go into any day's cricket not up for it, or ready.
"I think this week has actually been pretty good for us, to go from the elation of that (Adelaide) Test match to this game - which has been quite hard, attritional - made it a tough three days."
Perhaps Prior's toughest time came when he was hit on the full on the hip-bone by a wild full-toss from Jayde Herrick.
The 25-year-old seamer was subsequently ordered out of the attack by the umpires, in only his second first-class match, after two more high full-tosses were deemed to constitute dangerous bowling.
Prior confirmed: "One clattered me quite handily in the hip - which was a bad moment.
"But I think he just got a couple wrong. No one means to bowl them - it's just unfortunate. He apologised straight away."
Herrick and Clint McKay, who took two and four wickets respectively today, got more out of the pitch than the three England seamers who went into the fixture trying to press their claims to replace the injured Stuart Broad in Perth.
Prior was nonetheless impressed by the collective efforts of Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad.
"This was not an easy wicket to get batsmen out. I don't think any bowler was going to charge in and take a whole load,” he said.
"I thought all three of them bowled beautifully, didn't let the batters score at a rate. They all did a very, very good job on a wicket that wasn't helpful at all.
"They've all put their hands up, and I'm sure whoever gets selected will do a great job."