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Matt Prior's century helps England draw at Victoria

Tour Match, Melbourne:
Victoria 216-2d & 278-6d drew with England 184-2d & 211-6
Full match scorecard
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Matt Prior

Prior century saves England

Matt Prior hit an unbeaten century as England survived an early collapse to draw the tour fixture with Victoria after a rain-affected final day.

The visitors slumped to 55-4 as Clint McKay and Jayde Herrick made a mockery of the struggles endured by England's Ashes bowling hopefuls in Melbourne.

But Prior settled the tourists and was 102 not out when the match was called off with England on 211 for six.

The third Ashes Test gets under way in Perth on Thursday.

Victoria declared overnight, setting England a target of 311 to win, but that was always unlikely after the tourists lost Alistair Cook, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan and Steven Davies during the morning session.

Unfortunately it was pretty boring cricket for everyone to watch

England centurion Matt Prior

When Tim Bresnan and Ian Bell were dismissed to leave England on 149-6, the touring side were in real danger of defeat but they were saved by Prior's 23rd first-class century shortly before the stalemate was agreed with an hour remaining of an awkward third and final day.

When England decided to abandon any winning intent after tea, Prior - who hit 12 fours in total - crawled from 75 to his hundred in 20 overs, eventually reaching his century ably accompanied by Andrew Strauss, who came in at number eight and finished on 22 not out as the pair put on 62 from 138 balls.

"Why would you carry on playing your shots and potentially risk losing a game? We didn't want to do that," said Prior.

"We were hell bent that we were going to get through the day. Going into lunch, we were adamant we were not losing this game.

"Winning is a habit, and one you want to protect; if we'd lost today, we'd be very, very disappointed people.

"Unfortunately it was pretty boring cricket for everyone to watch. Sometimes it's got to be done."

McKay and Herrick found more assistance from the docile MCG pitch than any of England's seamers had managed - Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad all failed to take a wicket on day two, leaving few clues as to who should replace the injured Stuart Broad.

Bresnan was the only one of the three to take a wicket in the match, his solitary victim opener Ryan Carters during the home side's first innings.

McKay led the Victoria bowling with 4-68 from 17 overs, taking the wicket of opener Cook when the Englishman - so prolific in the two Ashes Tests so far - chopped an attempted cut on to his stumps.

Prior reveals motivation struggle

With captain Strauss dropping himself down the order, Steve Davies had opened with Cook and was swiftly joined by number three Paul Collingwood.

But Collingwood was soon pinned lbw on the back foot by Herrick and immediately afterwards he was joined in the pavilion by Davies, who edged McKay to slip.

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

Prior, who registered scores of 0 and 27 in the two innings he played in the opening two Ashes Tests, came to the rescue. He was fluent throughout while others were playing and missing regularly and brought up his half century off 47 balls.

606: DEBATE

Fast bowler Herrick was taken out of Victoria's attack by the umpires after bowling two full tosses above waist-height at Prior in consecutive overs in the post-lunch session.

But McKay continued to trouble the England batsmen for the right reasons and he had Bresnan caught behind before dismissing 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.

He also came close to taking the wicket of Prior on 61 but Michael Hill could not quite hold on to a difficult chance at midwicket.

England now travel to Perth on Monday to begin their preparations for the third Ashes Test.



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Victoria make England toil at MCG
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Australia ring changes for Perth
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Injured Broad ruled out of Ashes
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England in Australia 2010-11
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