Cook hits fifty before rain returns
Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss guided England safely to 89 without loss in the 8.5 overs possible on the third, drizzly day at Lord's, with Cook notching a smooth fifty. New Zealand's bowlers stuck to their task well but, although their lines were reasonably disciplined, both Chris Martin and Kyle Mills carelessly gifted four no-balls. There was no play between lunch and the close, however, and with continued bursts of showers, the umpires were forced to make the players - and fans - sit and wait until it was officially called off at 5.15pm.
As has been the story of the Test match so far, the start of play was delayed by 25 minutes. Yesterday it was bad light, today the drizzle persisted, but once they got out into the middle, Strauss and Cook batted solidly and tidily. Martin, continuing from the Nursery End, was a little too wide to Cook, allowing him to back-cut him past the slips for an easy three, while pushing singles out to cover.
At the Pavilion End, Mills looked in good rhythm, though there was little swing available in spite of the consistently overcast conditions. A wider delivery to Cook was dispatched for a rare four, a thumping cover drive to bring up a composed 79-ball fifty - his second against New Zealand and third at Lord's.
Strauss, who made his debut here against New Zealand four years ago, looked somewhere back to his best. Showing excellent judgement of his off-stump, defending cautiously, he forced Martin to bowl at his stumps and subsequently picked him off through midwicket for easy singles. This was the Strauss of old: biding his time and not looking to take New Zealand's attack apart, although he did uppercut a Martin bouncer over the slips. The very next ball, he unwisely attempted the same shot to a slightly fuller and quicker delivery, and rightly chastised himself.
There were few alarms for England, however, and they will be frustrated - as were a three-quarters-full Lord's - that they couldn't reassert their authority. The forecast for the final two days, however, is far better.
Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo