70th over: New Zealand 211-2 ( Williamson 96, Taylor 84) Ben Stokes bowls the last over before lunch. Williamson considers the forecast and pulls him twice, quite beautifully to the square leg boundary. They all potter off for sandwiches and we catch a glimpse of the sky, which is darkening. A bumbling morning for England, with those two drops by Ollie Pope and meme creator Joe Denly. The game drifts towards its natural end. Time for a quick stretch, back soon.
69th over: New Zealand 202-2 ( Williamson 88, Taylor 83) Time for some Joe Root. He brings the fielders forward, he urges them back with his long conductorial fingers. Sleeves buttoned down, he twirls; Taylor plays him with nuff respect, then a nudge down to square leg to reach 7000 Test runs, only the second New Zealander to get there. Then Root turns one into Taylor’s pads, big appeal turned down, but decides not to review.
68th over: New Zealand 201-2 ( Williamson 88, Taylor 82) Against the run of play, a little Christmas sparkle . Stokes fires one in short, Williamson misjudges as he swivels to pull and the ball pings into his helmet and sprays behind where Pope catches it. A half-hearted appeal from both Stokes and Pope and Root decides to go for the review. And why not? He’s not out – there’s no contact with the swooshing bat, and Lockie Ferguson brings out a new helmet. Taylor and Williamson continue to get their eye in for the battle ahead across the Tasman. New Zealand’s lead is 100.
67th over: New Zealand 197-2 ( Williamson 87, Taylor 80) Curran heads wide of the crease to send the ball in. Williamson eases a couple of runs and starts to think about lunch.
66th over: New Zealand 195-2 ( Williamson 85, Taylor 80) Ben Stokes, to bowl for your life? He digs six short balls into unresponsive soil, undaunted by the lack of reward. He laughs in the face of pancakes.
65th over: New Zealand 190-2 ( Williamson 84, Taylor 77) Nowt of note.
Speaking of Gatting, writes Tom from North London, watch this.
64th over: New Zealand 186-2 ( Williamson 80, Taylor 77) Denly. Two singles. Lots of school kids in maroon t-shirt and shorts frolic on the grass.
63rd over: New Zealand 184-2 ( Williamson 79, Taylor 76) The Christmas perfume ads have hit – though none as memorable as the one years ago for L’egoiste that involved lots of people opening and closing shutters loudly whilst shouting. It made quite an impression at a sensitive age. Not that I ever bought it. Curran skips through a maiden with a smile on his face and a lolly in his pocket.
62nd over: New Zealand 183-2 ( Williamson 79, Taylor 75) Denly whizzes through his over, as if he might fast-forward through the day so fast that it disappears.
61st over: New Zealand 179-2 ( Williamson 75, Taylor 75) Woakes strides actively to the crease. Williamson trots through for a single. Would it be too harsh to say the most interesting thing that is going to happen before lunch is the race to see who reaches their century first? Though when I say race, I mean it in its broadest possible sense.
Antnie writes from across the channel. I am following, avidly, I promise, in deepest France, though I’m having trouble picturing pink stains on bowlers trousers. I hope your hottie bottle is under control tonight.
No hot water bottle yet – that’s for the 1.40am shift. Perhaps Daniel has got his ready and waiting by the kettle right now.
60th over: New Zealand 178-2 ( Williamson 74, Taylor 75) And with a single to mid-on off Denly, that’s the 150 partnership between Williamson and Taylor, off 306 balls. They reach out, and shake hands.
59th over: New Zealand 176-2 ( Williamson 72, Taylor 75) A bearded Chris Woakes is rather discombobulating , he starts to look like all the other bearded warriors, a bit of Mark Wood, with a touch of Virat Kohli. Beards have definitely got better though. Compare Mike Gatting’s to the 2019 versions.
58th over: New Zealand 175-2 ( Williamson 72, Taylor 74) Denly is bowling with his shades on, as Root polishes the ball for him on the back of his trousers. Not much happens, but the odd brain cell starts to disengage.
57th over: New Zealand 172-2 ( Williamson 70, Taylor 73) And a maiden from Woakes, as the wind ruffles the players’ shirts. And some more appreciation for Steven Finn pops into my email box.
Good evening, Tanya, writes Peter Stoker.
Not much to cheer about in this series other than, perhaps, the emergence of Steve Finn as a splendidly genial and good-natured pundit on TMS (although I appreciate, of course, that you have to follow the Sky telly feed). Let’s hope the lad has a good few years left steaming in from the Pavilion End at Lord’s. But after hanging up the size 16s…
56th over: New Zealand 172-2 ( Williamson 70, Taylor 73) Denly again, Taylor and Williamson are untroubled, Taylor laying into a crisp cut for four off his last ball.
55th over: New Zealand 164-2 ( Williamson 68, Taylor 67) Time for a bit of Chris Woakes, who takes long, brisk strides back to his mark and unfurls a tidy over.
Surely if the DRS was applied to Schrödinger‘s Cat, writes Kim Thonger, we’d find out once and for all if the ruddy thing was dead or alive and put an end to the uncertainty?
54th over: New Zealand 163-2 ( Williamson 68, Taylor 66) Nice little bit of captaincy here, as Root throws the ball to Denly – let him try to make amends, or at least not mull over the drop isolated in the field. The wind is getting up, and rattling the trees surrounding the ground.
53rd over: New Zealand 161-2 ( Williamson 66, Taylor 66) Fortified by drinks, Archer rolls through another over. It’s free entry today by the way, so if you’ve got time on your hands in Hamilton, why not mosey down.
Joe Denly should never have gone to the Marnus Labuschagne catching school, snorts David Markham.
while Dave Harris wonders, “Do you think Mrs Denly’s going to be letting Joe hold their little’un (https://mobile.twitter.com/joed1986/status/1172466162761908225) uunsupervised when he gets home?
52nd over: New Zealand 157-2 ( Williamson 65, Taylor 63) Good old Stuart Broad runs yet another over into those tired old legs. Enthusiasm undimmed. Three not particularly memorable singles and that be drinks.
This seems a bit cruel, but here you go, to accompany your coffee/cocoa.
51st over: New Zealand 155-2 ( Williamson 62, Taylor 61) A maiden from Archer. Trouble at the last ball when Taylor sends Williamson back and he only just makes his crease via a sprawled dive.
50th over: New Zealand 155-2 ( Williamson 62, Taylor 61) A maiden from Broad, as poor ostracised Denly trudges around the field unloved. Give him a hug someone.
49th over: New Zealand 154-2 ( Williamson 62, Taylor 61) Oh dear. Cover your eyes. Joe Denly has just dropped the sitter of all sitters. Archer bowls to Williamson, one of those balls where he doesn’t use his front arm, Williamson tips it straight into Denly’s hands at short midwicket, and I mean straight, Denly doesn’t move his feet an inch, and just waits for the ball to come into his hands, which it does, and then falls straight back out. Broad covers his mouth with his hands , Archer, who was already celebrating, puts head to his hand and then laughs.
48th over: New Zealand 151-2 ( Williamson 59, Taylor 61) There’s a scattering of bare-footed crowd on the banks either side of the sightscreen as this game meanders away. A steady over from Broad.
47th over: New Zealand 149-2 ( Williamson 59, Taylor 61) Archer again, nothing too steamy, but on the button. Just a couple from the over.
Geoff Wignall offers this up:
And you expect me to.open the door?
46th over: New Zealand 147-2 ( Williamson 58, Taylor 60) A double-switch as Broad replaces Stokes. Nothing much to report except for Zak Crawley tripping over himself in the covers, like a British rom-com hero negociating unexpected ice.
45th over: New Zealand 143-2 ( Williamson 58, Taylor 56) So Root turns to Archer. They have a man to man at the top of the mark and Root shuffles the field. Taylor swivels and pulls a short one, 117kph, for a single, then Williamson ducks, like a leapfrogger.
I think if we’ve learned anything it’s that New Zealand are good enough to beat England, and that the groundskeepers should be more adventurous in preparing pitches for a result, writes Joe Harvey, wisely, This second test has been disappointing. As an England supporter, I worry that we haven’t learned much- we’re still trying to figure out if Root is cut out for Captaincy, and if the Bowling attack needs a more aggressive shuffle.
I don’t think our bowling hand is too bad: Broad, Archer, Curran, Woakes, Stokes – then throw in Anderson and Wood with Mahmood sculling around in a florescent tabard.
Fifty for Taylor
44th over: New Zealand 143-2 ( Williamson 58, Taylor 56) And fifty for Taylor too, a more chunky, risky, effort but very entertaining. He jumps off the ground to swish a Stokes wide one over gully for four, then next ball sends him through the covers for successive boundaries. Taylor and Williamson stroll together, shoot the breeze, and touch gloves.
Fifty for Williamson
43rd over: New Zealand 134-2 ( Williamson 58, Taylor 47) Beautiful from Kane Williamson, first a dreamy extra cover drive, then he drops the hands and kisses Curran down to third man for another four.
I like him too. And Ramprakash, they both add something new to the squad.
42nd over: New Zealand 124-2 ( Williamson 49, Taylor 46) Taylor decides to lay into Stokes with a swift-handed slap through backward point for four. Lots of muscle but no reward yet for Stokes.
41st over: New Zealand 115-2 ( Williamson 45, Taylor 40) Curran goes through the motions, all effort and sweaty hair. Williamson plays him poker-faced until stealing a couple down to long-off.
A cracking email from John Starbuck.
1) You’d think that a sport more obsessed with stats than perhaps any other (OK Baseball, but that’s just a sort of rounders) would place more trust in meteorological forecasts and start even earlier on the final day;
2) We seems to be selecting players for the next but one series at the moment and even later given the chance to select youngsters who need overseas experience;
3) Mince pies should, properly, be accompanied by glasses of Madeira now we’re in December. Boast: since the early 1980s I’ve been buying an extra bottle of Madeira each year to lay down for my retirement and, now it’s arrived, I’m very pleased to say it was all worthwhile. The problem is that word has got about and I now have to take a 40-year old bottle to every Yuletide family party. Note to the uninformed: Madeira in bottles is known to mature fabulously well for longer and varied treatment – in my case, several house removals, which isn’t the same as multiple trips across the Atlantic but it’ll do;
4) Here’s hoping you’ll sign off this series on a high.
40th over: New Zealand 113-2 ( Williamson 45, Taylor 40) A Stokes tester, he torments Williamson with variations of length and bounce.
You could say that, or it just means he’ll be a more confident captain with some form behind him, and can grow into the job while other candidates develop/secure their place in the side.
39th over: New Zealand 113-2 ( Williamson 43, Taylor 40) Two contrasting boundaries for Taylor off Curran, a cover drive, all smooth hazelnut, then a Toxic Waste outside edge, down through third man.
Good evening Tanya
Good evening Damian Clarke.
My nephew also has a new joke book. His favourite so far?
Knock knock knock knock knock knock knock knock.
37th over: New Zealand 103-2 ( Williamson 43, Taylor 32) A drop! Stokes shoves one short and Williamson gloves it down the leg-side only for a porridge-legged Ollie Pope to drop it . To rub salt into the wound, Williamson then pulls Stokes with pizazz for four and New Zealand go into the lead.
37th over: New Zealand 99-2 ( Williamson 39, Taylor 32) A smart shy at the stumps from Sam Curran could have had Taylor in trouble, but his foot was comfortably back over the crease. Curran completes a neat maiden.
William Hargreaves drops a line. What do you feel will be the outcome, how fair a reflection of two teams’ capabilities would this be, and how do you think this will influence two teams going forward, please?
Gosh. I think that deserves two sides of A4. But briefly: a draw, a fairly true reflection (of England abroad) and I think it will give NZ some confidence going into the Australian series and reveals England’s weaknesses to be where they knew they were anyway. Incisive spin, Spots 2 and 3 in the batting order, and the killer instinct with the ball out of English conditions.
36th over: New Zealand 99-2 ( Williamson 39, Taylor 32) I was wondering whether Archer might get the ball from the other end, but Root has plumped for Stokes who toyed with Taylor yesterday evening. Again he seems to get Taylor in two minds, with the odd ball behaving unexpectedly off the pitch. Taylor pulls, inconclusively.
35th over: New Zealand 98-2 ( Williamson 39, Taylor 31) Sam Curran is handed the ball and scampers in from the Barmy Army end where a half-cut rendition of Jerusalem assaults the ears.
And out the players come – for perhaps the last session of the series.
An early joke, for our more mature readers, care of James Debens.
Someone’s stolen the Trotters’ Reliant Robin van and sold it to the US.
No, but Rodney’s bloody livid.
Another James, Butler this time, thinks Mike Atherton has forgotten the lesson of the near past.
It feels a bit ironic to now be saying that Sibley is ‘a bit limited’. Personally I would have given away my most treasured cricketing possession (a signed copy of ‘Angus Fraser’s Tour Diaries’) during the Ashes if we could have found a ‘limited’ player who could have ground out 20 between lunch and tea in the face of Pat Cummins.
Mark Butcher fancies Moeen Ali to rejoin England for the South Africa tour. I do hope so. Then they move on to Jofra Archer – Atherton says he’s an absolute diamond, but has realised how difficult Test cricket is away from England and the Dukes ball. Says we need to dampen expectation a little, but he’s a wonderful player.
An interesting tale here:
My son has a new joke book. This is his favourite.
Bill: I’m letting my pet pig sleep on my bed.
Jenny: What about the smell?
Bill: He’ll just have to get used to it.
In the Sky studio they’re having a selection chat for the South Africa series.
Mike Atherton think Dom Sibley might not be right, for now, and looks a bit limited. He suggests they might shove Denly up to open and thinks Ollie Pope looks the best English batsman since Joe Root.
Butcher would keep Sibley for the tour to South Africa and see what happens.
The England touring staff, according to Atherton, are both quite optimistic about Sibley and Crawley because of the way they are shaping up in practice.
It’s not raining by the way, looks quite nice actually.
So, here we are, two mince pies into December, with just one day left of the first tour of the new regime. Downpours are due, probably by lunch, so any hopes of England levelling the series, or New Zealand pulling another rabbit out of the hat, seem remote.
It’s all about the little presents left unobtrusively at the foot of the tree. In foil, England’s longest Test innings for four years. With raffia, Ollie Pope’s debut fifty and Tom Latham’s century. Gift-boxed, Joe Root’s double ton. And finally, busting out of a too-small envelope, Neil Wagner’s five wickets.
On Saturday New Zealand fly to Australia, where they need to hit the ground running. The first of the three Test series starts at Perth, before moving on to Melbourne on Boxing Day and Sydney at New Year. Their last Test win in Australia was in 2011 , but you have to travel back to the era of big hair and pixie boots to unearth their last series win, when Richard Hadless was in charge way back 1985-86.
England have a couple of warm-up games before the first Test against South Africa which starts at Centurion on Boxing day. Three more Tests, three ODIs and three T20s follow.
But we’ve still got today. Something to play for, even if it is Williamson and Taylor knocking themselves into form before the rain . Play is due to start at 10.30am NZST or 9.30pm GMT. See you soon!