Matt Prior was immovable in a memorable demonstration of collective resistance as England somehow avoided a first Test series defeat in New Zealand for almost 30 years.
Prior's unbeaten 110 scrambled England to 315 for nine at stumps in the final Test at Eden Park in a tour-de-force rearguard which also featured a near six-hour 75 from Ian Bell, a triumph of self-denial as Stuart Broad batted an astonishing 61 balls before scoring his first run and then number 11 Monty Panesar helping to keep out the last 19 balls.
But it was England's wicketkeeper-batsman who simply would not yield, making the most of some early fortune in a 182-ball innings. His stands of 78 with Bell and then 67 with a mostly scoreless Broad spanned 54 overs as the Kiwis, try as they might, just ran out of time and had to settle for a 0-0 series draw.
England had begun the final morning on 90 for four - with a theoretical victory target of 481 long since relegated to an irrelevance.
Prior's doggedness spared England embarrassment
Bell's determination stretched to strokeless extremes as he and Joe Root marked time against the old ball - and having first taken guard when Jonathan Trott was out on Monday night, he eventually fell to the 271st delivery he faced, an attempted drive at Neil Wagner ending in an edge to third slip, ensuring England's mission was again highly improbable.
Before then, Trent Boult needed just one attempt with the second new ball to break Bell's partnership of 60 with Root minutes from lunch. The Yorkshireman departed with uncanny echoes of several of his team-mates' first-innings dismissals, lbw pushing forward to an inswinger. Jonny Bairstow went cheaply to Tim Southee in early afternoon.
Prior was only 20 when he then mis-pulled Southee from high on the bat and saw the ball drop just out of Wagner's reach as he raced towards midwicket. Prior's next scrape, eight runs later, was an uncanny defiance of physics. A short ball from Wagner dropped down off his bat handle on to the bottom of the stumps - but somehow did not dislodge the bails.
Broad also survived a comical muddle to a yorker from Trent Boult, reviewing Paul Reiffel's lbw decision while on his knees - after dropping his bat and being hit in the throat by the handle, through his helmet grille. The crucial consolation was that DRS demonstrated Broad, still on nought of course, had hit the ball and therefore managed to overturn the decision.
Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum tried everything he knew. But Broad and Prior, who completed his hundred with a pull off Wagner for his 18th four, had every answer until the hard-working number nine edged Kane Williamson to slip - and then James Anderson went in an action replay two balls later.
It fell to Prior therefore, in company with Panesar for the final three overs, to keep England unbeaten in a series many predicted they would win at a canter to set themselves up for their double Ashes year.
More:New Zealand England Test Series UK Cricket Matt Prior New Zealand England Cricket England Draw Final Test
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