Latest news: the umpires didn’t bother with their inspection, because just as they were about to do so it started to rain again:
So the aim is for play to restart in about an hour: 7pm in Auckland, 6am GMT. Unless the rain returns first, that is.
It has stopped raining! Groundstaff are busily trying to dry the outfield, and also to ignore the rain radar, which suggests there’s more to come, but perhaps not for an hour or so.
Latest news: it’s still raining, but not quite so hard as it was, with brighter skies to be spied off to the whatever-direction-it’s-coming-from. So maybe we will get a bit more cricket yet.
And that’s it from me, after 54 runs and one (big) wicket. Simon Burnton has risen from his slumber to tell you all about the rain. Thanks for your company and your correspondence. It’s been a half day’s night.
More from Zaph Mann (82nd over). “No one’s reading are they?” Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Silent majority, and all that. “Anyhow, just in case, I was wondering if the feeling that England collapse more than other nations is actually true, any statistics on this?” Given the state of my wi-fi, I could probably get them together for you in the next fortnight.
Here comes the rain again
Another shower, and it looks heavier than the last one. NZ are 229-4, well on top.
92nd over: NZ 229-4 (Nicholls 49, Watling 17) Broad returns and, possibly riled by Root, gets one to jag back out of nowhere like a fast-medium off-break. It hits Watling on the pad but the appeals are stifled because it’s doing too much.
91st over: NZ 226-4 (Nicholls 49, Watling 16) Nicholls shovels Woakes past gully for a couple. He’s been obdurate, crabby, unashamedly old-fashioned: a faithful heir to the great Kiwi tradition of John Wright.
90th over: NZ 226-4 (Nicholls 47, Watling 16) Watling plays something between a cut and a back-foot drive off Anderson: whatever it is, it goes for another four. Watling is playing a different game from anyone bar Craig Overton in his flurry of defiance at the end of England’s so-called innings.
88th over: NZ 219-4 (Nicholls 45, Watling 11) More timing from Watling, who pushes Woakes for four through the covers as if trying to break the record for the least effort ever put into a stroke. Then, to twist the knife, he edges for four more through the vacant fourth slip. He has 11 off 11 balls.
87th over: NZ 210-4 (Nicholls 44, Watling 3) Another maiden from Woakes. All this parsimony would normally be building pressure, but NZ are so far ahead, they’re not bothered. The lead is 152.
86th over: NZ 206-4 (Nicholls 44, Watling 3) Watling gets off the mark with a clip off the toes, off Anderson, that has the commentators purring with its timing.
A tweet arrives from Kabindra. “Any chance that England may cross 70 in the second innings, after they batted as if visually impaired in the first?” Ouch.
85th over: NZ 206-4 (Nicholls 43, Watling 0) Woakes, replacing Broad, gets an early go with the new ball, which may be a ploy by Root to get Broad riled up. Woakes bowls a maiden. “BJ Watling,” says Ian Smith, “is a grinder as well. Feels no pressure about the scoreboard.”
Wicket! Williamson lbw Anderson 102 (NZ 206-4)
Williamson has gone, to a row of reds on the screen – but really to Anderson’s enduring skill. A fitting end to a fine innings.
For lbw against Williamson, by Anderson. Given out, looking good…
83rd over: NZ 203-3 (Williamson 101, Nicholls 41) Broad is steaming in but Nicholls, the trusty second fiddle, is in tune, with a push through the covers for two and a punch past midwicket for three. England badly need a wicket, in fact seven of them.
82nd over: NZ 198-3 (Williamson 101, Nicholls 36) The lights are on now and Anderson finds some outswing, on a good length, but starting a touch too wide of off, so Williamson isn’t tempted.
Zaph Mann has a question. “Do you think that had England had merged in the better short-form players into the test side (there are several), they would then not have ‘retired’ from the Test match format. Surely if we are to play ‘attacking’ cricket, let’s include those most adept at attacking play?”
81st over: NZ 198-3 (Williamson 101, Nicholls 36) Armed with the new ball, Broad finds some movement and raises his pace, but the movement is into the right-hander and the immaculate Williamson keeps him out.
80th over: NZ 197-3 (Williamson 100, Nicholls 36) Anderson resumes with a maiden. But these batsmen have all the time in the world, unless we get days of rain. Time for the new ball, which is the colour of a rather desperate cocktail.
Tea is being taken early because of the rain. As this is a day-nighter, tea (20 mins) comes before the interval normally known as lunch (40 mins). Though that too may be mucked about by the weather. Don’t you love Test cricket?
We’ve done China, now here’s an email from Hong Kong. The writer is Lawrence Thompson. “On days like this morning in Hong Lok Yuen, in the heart of Hong Kong’s green and mountainous New Territories, a lacuna in the school day can usually be enjoyed with a stream of any test cricket taking place in Australasian lands in the school staffroom. Sadly having to now find somewhere else to eat my lunch, such is the forcefulness of the ribbing encounters to be endured by my largely antipodean colleagues in regard to England’s woefulness. At least it’s a nice day for a picnic.”
Another Atherton fan writes. “Hi Tim,” says Andy Webber. “As another Andy and another Aussie, I’d like to wish Athers a Happy Birthday too. He was a great cricketer and offered resistance to many teams while his colleagues often collapsed around him. He is a great commentator and as a former long-term UK resident I miss his insights and humour when I am forced to listen to the Channel Nine Shane Warne comedy capers here on Oz TV.”
We have an answer to Ian Forth’s teaser (01:56), asking when, in the past 20 years, England made fewer than 58 in their first innings and ended up winning. “Centurion 2000,” says Liam Cromar on Twitter. “Not sure England can take much heart from that quirk of history, though.” Delicately phrased. Are you a diplomat?
Say what you like about England collapses, they keep the rest of the cricket world amused. “Tim, Andy From Qld here. I am sure the only possible soundtrack for yesterday’s *ahem* effort by the English batsmen is the Benny Hill theme. It captures the hilarity, the ridiculousness, and the pain for the English all in one neat tune. In fact, as an Aussie, I may well play it in the background when I finally get to watch a highlights package of the carnage; it will be awesome!”
The rain has stopped and there’s even a spot of sunshine, but no news yet on when they’ll resume.
“Just gone 9pm here north of Bogota,” says Peter Rowntree. “So it’s raining, we could do with a day or three of that. A song for yesterday’s performance, how about the Mikado and ‘Tit Willow’.”
If you feel like singing in the rain, do what Bumble did earlier out in the middle, and sing Happy Birthday to Mike Atherton. He’s 50 today, and still boyish with it.
His batting, his captaincy, his writing and his commentary you know about. There are only a couple of things I can add. In my brief time as a touring correspondent, Atherton was the only cricketer you would see in the departure lounge with a Penguin classic. And, of the players and ex-players I’ve known, he is the most interested in other people, always asking questions, never closing his mind. He is exactly the same person on and off the screen.
A tweet from China. “Mostly I enjoy my working days in China,” says Richard woods, “with the OBO open while England play cricket away from home. Yesterday not so much.”
And a teaser from Ian Forth. “There is one match within the last twenty years when England scored fewer than 58 on first innings and went on to win the match. Care to name it?” Oooh…
79th over: NZ 197-3 (Williamson 100, Nicholls 36) Another maiden from Overton, which is at least handy for the harassed blogger. But then they’re off for rain. Shame.
This mini-session belongs to Williamson, but he and his stolid sidekick, Nicholls, haven’t had it all their own way: just 22 runs off 10 overs. And now Anderson and Broad get to put their feet up before taking the new ball.
78th over: NZ 197-3 (Williamson 100, Nicholls 36) It’s all not happening here. Broadband doing a good impression of dial-up, and now the telly’s on the blink too. Serves me right for being with Richard Branson. Back in Auckland, Anderson came on but even that didn’t stop Williamson going to a well-earned hundred. He could get out now and still have England in his pocket.
Williamson dabs Anderson for a single – and that is not just the first hundred of this match, it’s the 18th of his Test career, which is a new NZ record, pipping Martin Crowe and Ross Taylor. He’s been immense – cool, calm and clinical.
77th over: NZ 190-3 (Williamson 98, Nicholls 31) Another maiden from Overton, who is quietly having a good match. But here comes Jimmy Anderson…
“Hello Tim.” Hello Phil Withall. “If you’re looking for appropriate songs to soundtrack yesterday you need look no further than track 9 of Warren Zevon’s 2000 album ‘Life’ll kill ya’. Although it is possibly a little rude for a family-friendly OBO, I’ll let you fill in the blanks – My S***’s F****d up.”
76th over: New Zealand 189-3 (Williamson 98, Nicholls 30) Woakes continues, tries a couple of bouncers, and concedes a couple of singles.
And here’s Robert Wilson. “The choices for musical accompaniment to yesterday’s bloodsports may well be infinite,” her reckons, “but I absolutely demand that it includes Et moi et moi et moi by the legendary Jacques Dutronc (the only certifiably cool person in French history). Because? Well, the lyrics a bit, the melody a bit but the voice massively. This is the voice of an End of Days cricketing horror-show, of the true absurdist dismay of unmoving feet, blinking eyes and bats made of custard. I don’t know why but this is definitely how a batting collapse sounds. I wonder does he know…”
75th over: New Zealand 187-3 (Williamson 97, Nicholls 29) Craig Overton replaces Broad, who is being kept for the new ball in five overs’ time. He keeps Williamson waiting for his hundred with some solid line’n’length.
And here’s Ian Copestake. “I am sure the collapse yesterday was just a bit of rustiness, coupled with a refusal to face the fact that WE ARE STILL ON TOUR! WILL IT NEVER END! ARRRGH!”
74th over: New Zealand 185-3 (Williamson 97, Nicholls 27) Sorry – my screen is having the kind of day England had yesterday. Williamson, watchful at first, pounces on a half-volley from Broad and sends it skimming back past him for a handsome four. Broad replies with a jaffa, jagging past the outside edge.
And a tweet too! “Browser open,” says Tim Senior, “for checking @TimdeLisle’s OBO of #NZvsENG. What sort of masochist am I? (I suppose your responses will demonstrate whether that’s a rhetorical question or not.” Clicking on Tim Senior, I find he’s a GP specialising in Aboriginal health, with over 8,000 followers, who plays the viola. I’m happy to be Tim Junior.
Here comes the first email of the day. From inside the ground! “They seem to be playing Mad World by Gary Jules over the tannoy here at Eden Park,” says Oliver Deed. “Seems like an apt soundtrack for the Test so far. Perhaps they’ll play Things Can Only Get Better by D:Ream next? Here’s hoping.” Ah yes, the hope. The thing that forms a partnership with the masochism.
Après le débâcle… quoi? Today in Auckland looks like being all about yesterday in Auckland. A Test team can’t be bowled out for 58 without sending a few aftershocks round the world. Poor old Joe Root is having almost as bad a week as Mark Zuckerberg.
England can save this match, if they get help from the clouds (quite a few showers are forecast for the next four days), or if Alastair Cook embarks on one of his big stately hundreds. They can even win it, just as long as they make around 150 more in their second innings than New Zealand make in their first, and then bowl them out for 200. Stranger things have happened, if only at Headingley and Kolkata.
But the odds are of course stacked against either of those results, because the New Zealanders just need to keep going, something Kane Williamson is quite good at. He already has 91 in a contest in which no other top-order batsman has reached 30. As we saw when England skittled Australia at Trent Bridge in 2015, games like this can be sealed by a single hundred, not necessarily a big one. The role of Williamson was played then, in a neat irony, by Root.
So what do you reckon to the 58 all out? Was it one bad morning, or the culmination of a culture of complacency that has left England’s Test team way behind their white-ball colleagues? The coach is more of a one-day guy. The captain is a lovely batsman with hardly any experience of leadership. The selectors have gone rogue, sticking a failed No.5 up to No.3 in the toughest series of all. The opening partnership hasn’t worked since the director of cricket was still a player. One of the two old warhorses who open the bowling has forgotten how to take a five-for. The other seamers are solid but samey. The lone spinner had a shocker in Australia. And the star allrounder missed the whole of the Ashes. Apart from that, it’s all good.
Join me at 1am GMT, 2pm Auckland time, to see if Root’s England have it in them to turn things round.