New Zealand v England: Prior helps steady tourists on day three

England close on 256-9 in their second innings at the end of the third day of their tour match against a New Zealand XI

England closed on 256-9 in their second innings at the end of the third day of their tour match against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown.

A knock of 68 from Matt Prior, alongside an unbeaten 41 from Graeme Swann, saw the tourists extend their lead to 333 as the match enters its final day.

With Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen failing to contribute with the bat in either innings, Prior was adamant that the trio will come good by the start of the Test series, which begins next Wednesday.

“You can score all the runs you want in the world in warm-up games, but ultimately that first innings of the Test match is where we want Compo to go and score a big hundred,” the wicketkeeper said.

“He would want to have gone out and smashed a hundred, but he’s hitting the ball brilliantly in the nets, and it will be down to him to get his preparation right going into the Test.”

“The guys [Pietersen and Trott] are experienced enough and have played long enough now to know that the big test starts next week, and that’s when it’s important they score runs.”

“They’ve been on tours where they haven’t scored any runs in warm-up games, and then blitzed a hundred in the first Test.”

Prior’s fifth-wicket stand of 78 with Joe Root played a key role in helping to steady England’s second innings after they had been reduced to 67-4.

“Obviously, it wasn’t great to start off with – you don’t want to lose early wickets,” he added.

“Those guys at the top would love to score hundreds every time they walk out to bat, but that’s not possible. In that scenario, it’s up to the middle and lower order to bail the team out – and, from that point of view, it was excellent practice.”

“You can net as much as you want, have middle practices among each other, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing.”

“We’d far prefer this from a warm-up match than guys just coming in and going through the motions.”

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