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Prior hundred secures draw

Matt Prior

Matt Prior goes on the attack before the tourists settled for a draw with Victoria on a rain-reduced final day at the MCG

Matt Prior’s two-paced century earned England a draw in their tour match against Victoria at the MCG.

Prior sped to his fifty from 47 balls but, once the tourists ceased their pursuit of victory after tea, the wicketkeeper-batsman took his time to reach an unbeaten 102.

England had faltered to 55 for four, and then 149 for six, as Clint McKay and Jayde Herrick found assistance with the new ball.

But initially in pursuit of 311 to win, Prior stood firm and was rewarded with a 137-ball ton shortly before the stalemate was agreed with the score 211 for six and an hour remaining of a rain-interrupted day.

As well as some conventionally testing deliveries, Prior also had to deal with two of the three high full-tosses delivered by the inconsistent Herrick, which eventually resulted in his removal from the attack by umpires Paul Wilson and Geoff Joshua.

It was an ignominious end to only Herrick's second first-class match, having made his debut for Wellington two weeks ago.

But after the 25-year-old - who would stand out in any crowd anyway thanks to his tattoos, shaven hair and headband - had drawn further attention to himself by striking Prior with one wild full-toss and then produced two more, he could have few complaints.

McKay, who picked up 4-68, and Herrick shared the wickets, after what seemed a generous decision from captain Cameron White to call time on Victoria's second innings at an overnight 278 for six.

But in cloudy conditions, on this Melbourne pitch which has given the pace bowlers precious little help and yielded a solitary wicket for them over the previous two days, McKay and Herrick soon found movement with the new ball.

Paul Collingwood & Jayde Herrick

Jayde Herrick, who was later removed from the attack after sending down three full-tosses, traps Paul Collingwood lbw

Alastair Cook, so prolific in two Tests this winter, was first to go when he chopped an attempted cut at McKay on to his stumps for 10.

With Andrew Strauss dropping himself down the order, Steven Davies had gone in first with Cook - and was joined by Paul Collingwood at number three.

Collingwood was soon pinned lbw on the back foot by Herrick for eight, though, and immediately afterwards Davies was gone too - edging McKay to slip on 18.

Eoin Morgan, batting for the first time for England this winter, edged a drive behind off Herrick - bowling round the wicket to the left-hander - to depart for six.

With the tourists stuttering, Prior duly came to the rescue - fluent en route to a half-century while others played and missed regularly.

It was only after tea, when England decided to abandon any winning intent, that Prior crawled from 75 to his hundred in 20 overs.

In company with his captain, his cover-drive off White's leg-spin for his 12th four was the attack-minded right-hander's first shot in anger for much of the evening session.

The rain breaks had earlier allowed White to bowl his two frontline seamers unchanged for 22 overs.

McKay, who had Tim Bresnan caught behind for 19 pushing forward, was kept going and almost rewarded with Prior's wicket on 61 - when Michael Hill was just unable to hang on to a tough chance away to his left from a flick to midwicket.

McKay did, however, shift Ian Bell - who missed a half-century for the first time in six innings when he drove a slower ball straight into the hands of cover on 17.

Strauss was the new batsman and soon made his intentions clear in an unbeaten innings of 22 from 65 balls, which set the tone for an unbroken stand of 62 from 138.