sharp bouncer, aiming at the top of Taylor's lid, he flinches underneath it
2.05pm: Play has been officially jiggered for the day, so the second Test ends in an unsatisfactory, watery draw. The good, drought-stricken folk of Wellington are the only winners here. Thanks for helping keep the ball in the air for longer than seemed possible today - join us again for some actual cricket on Friday, for the deciding third Test from a hopefully dry Auckland. Cheerio
2pm: I have no idea what it's doing at Basin Reserve but the covers are still on. I wish I was under covers right now. Let's assume it's still raining.
"Any combination of the Aussie quicks with Anderson would suit me fine," muses Patch. "The criteria was for playing in England or SA, so I don't know why anyone would want to pick Ashwin after how he played in Australia. Swann would be my first choice spinner, then probably Panesar, although a spinner isn't all that necessary in England and SA."
Eureka, Colin Williams: "Hamish Rutherford is averaging 69.30. In he goes!"
And Kieran knows who he would give the gloves to: "Prior is Mr Consistent for England and has been for a long time. Dhoni and McCullum, whilst they've recently been impressive have averages below 40 and neither of them are as good a keeper as Prior. I don't think there's really much competition for the keeping slot between the three."
1.20pm: The umpires are having a poke around out in the middle ... but the drizzle has returned. This is taking Pinter-esque pauses to an extreme.
"Why no love for Matt Prior?" wonders BeCautious. "He outperformed Dhoni in both home and away series against India and he was England's highest run scorer against SA. Are people going to forget that and pick Dhoni because of one mind-boggling innings?"
Neil, however, is in the Dhoni camp, among other things: "Root would definitely get more runs than Williamson if he remains in the team, if only through the fact that England play about 3 times the amount of Tests that NZ do. As for my 2 cents worth I'd have Cook, Gambhir, Kholi, Ross Taylor, Michael Clarke, McCullum, Dhoni, Pattinson, Ashwin, Siddle and Anderson."
Very good, Douglas: "'only player in any of the teams to average over 50 in Tests'... how quickly they forget Bruce Martin."
Josh, meanwhile, is willing to make a concession: "Oh this selections easy AN Cook (just), HD Rutherford, KS Williamson, LRPL Taylor, DG Brownlie, BB McCullum*, BJ Watling†, TG Southee, BP Martin, N Wagner, TA Boult."
12.55pm: Best weather of the day in Wellington, apparently. Which is a bit like nominating your least offensive reality TV programme. The players are now at the ground but the square remains covered. Anyway...
"Shaking it up more than the others," declares Sebastian Templeton, "Vijay for Compton, Clarke for KP, Dhoni for Root, McCullum for Prior (tough call) and Ashwin for Panesar, with some rejigging of the order to switch Bell with Clarke and bring Ashwin up the order. Vijay, Cook, Trott, Bell, Clarke, Dhoni (wk), McCullum, Ashwin, Finn, Broad, Anderson."
Cris has a keeper quibble: "@Nick: Dhoni over Prior makes sense in Indian conditions, not in England or SA. Pattinson for Broad and Clarke for Root would be my choice. If Pujara succeeds overseas, I'll pick him over Bell.."
Matt Mathias gets straight to the point: "My team would be: Cook, Warner, Troyt, KP, Clarke, Bell, Donhi, Swann (Ashwin), Broad, Pattinson, Anderson."
And Cameron is raising the stakes: "Yes, yes, yes England, your team is very special...However, picking a combined Aus, NZ, ENG, Test team Clarke is the first player you pick full stop. Not only the only player in history to score three [actually four - BBB ed] double tons in a calendar year, he's also the only player in any of the teams to average over 50 in Tests.... Now while you're all so chipper, what odds will you give me on Williamson having a better career than Root - currently both 22..."
12.25pm: The groundstaff have ambled out with their mop and bucket and the umpires are inspecting. Merely considering the possibility will condemn us all to cricket hell but, well, I'm probably going there anyway: we could still get some play.
"My only two changes would be Clarke for Root and Tendulkar for Compton.. second is a romantic decision but I will have to wait to see whether Compton can still bring it against a better bowling attack... Also Pattinson for Broad." But who would open, Rixi? Clarke gets dizzy above No. 5 and Tendulkar bats where Tendulkar wants.
Here's Nick Donnelly: "In response to Phil, I would take Michael Clarke over Joe Root (at this stage of his career) and MS Dhoni over Matt Prior. The only other possible for me is Warner for Compton, but it's a coin toss. I like this England team a lot!"
12.10pm: It has stopped raining. The raining has STOPPED. Although, according to the radar, another band could be sweeping over shortly. The officials are reportedly having a poke around but there's unlikely to be any dramatic movement soon - I think the players are still not yet at the ground.
"Quiz time for English insomniacs," announces Phil, rubbing his hands, "which current Aus/NZ/Ind players would walk into your Eng XI for Test series played in (a) Eng (b) SA? And whom would they replace?" I presume SA are the opposition in both cases for this hypothetical...
12pm: A clarification, on behalf of Keith Bennett: "Woah woah! I'm in Australia, but I'm actually English, so my kicks are fine at present. :-P." Which is a shame, because I had lots of fun, homework-themed sledging to publish that's now sadly invalid.
Anyway, it's still lightly drizzling in Wellington, according to Gnasher. Which gives me the chance to put out an appeal on behalf of Paul Holden: "Alan - the Beige Brigade is a victim of theft. This bloke stole our kiwi and is now sending us photos via Twitter from around Wellington. He is from Southend apparently. Any sightings embraced." An Essex boy has stolen your inflatable, eh, Paul? Just be grateful he's not from Romford. Although you still might be lucky to see it again.
11.05am: "Forget about the cricket, watching Kiwi supporters arguing about weather conditions is great fun! :-D" chuckles Keith Bennett. Keith is
from in Australia (so arguably has to get his kicks where he can plenty to chuckle at right now).
10.45am: Still wetter than an otter's pocket out there, according to all reports. Needless to say (but that won't stop me), there'll be no cric-ball before lunch...
Meanwhile, we've had lots of comments in support of Matt. Sorry, that sentence should have read, "in support of stringing up Matt".
"@Matt from Mt Victoria: typical north island attitude there - rain up there, fault of the schedulers," thunders Joshua. "Rain down here, just typical Dunedin. Despite the fact that we average LESS rainfall than pretty much all the main centres in the North Island, and up until that Test were also in a very extended dry spell."
Here's Jimmy, with his tupenny'orth: "In response to Matt from Mt Victoria - I believe the reason we play tests in March is that Feb-Mar has more settled weather than Dec-Jan. So in theory this would be the better time to play. There are a wealth of webpages that support that theory."
And, in the interests of balance, John Hegarty: "I'm with Matt of Mt. Vic: why oh why do we (NZC) schedule Tests for unreliable March? Get your Cricinfo boffins onto researching the last time a March Test series in NZ was unaffected materially by rain."
9.45am: Don't even think about it. Nope, we're not even engaged in a crossed-fingers, held-breath, look-the-other-way-and-the-sun-might-come-out exercise: it's been shedding down in Wellington and there's zero prospect of play starting in 15 minutes' time. The players haven't even left their hotels. However, NZC say the game will not be called off until "late this afternoon", presumably in the hope of sapping the England bowlers just a touch more, in revenge for Dunedin. Anyway, do keep popping your head in from time to time, to keep me company - we've got some nice pieces for you to read as we (in the UK at least) approach the Mezzanine hours, such as Gnasher's on Kane Williamson, and look, I've even teed-up 1hr 34mins-worth of Brian Lara's 400* in sun-drenched Antigua to keep you entertained.
On the subject of rain, here's Matt from Mt Victoria. Permission to vent granted, sir: "Frustration has overcome me and I've felt compelled to email you well before the 10am commencement of day 5... I have awoken to a miserable Wellington morning and another inevitable draw. I don't blame the weather, we can't control that, but we can control the time of year our Test matches are played. Wouldn't it make sense to play the longer form of the game earlier in the summer when long spells of fine weather are of a higher probability and save the 3 and 6 hour formats to this time of year? Would I be so cynical to suggest that this is driven by money? Not sure, don't care, just want my 5 days play to quell the monotony of my Monday. On the upside, at least the Black Caps haven't lost... yet?! Last gripe... Tests in Dunedin: illogical waste of time."
5.55pm: Play has been abandoned, so you can all go home ... Actually, you probably are already at home. I'm definitely going to go home, as soon as the Tube starts up again. We'll be back again from 10am (2100 GMT) tomorrow (later today), with New Zealand 49 runs from taking the game to a fourth innings and England requiring eight wickets. Spoiler alert: The forecast isn't good. Cheerio
5.50pm: They've taken off the Hessian and put the stumps back in ... but apparently it's raining again. Out go the umpires for a looksee. Okay, forgive me for sounding like a stuck record but the covers are being put back on.
"Time to give up for the day," counsels Ivy, "heaps of rain coming again - can only just see Somes Island in the harbour from Mt Cook."
5.40pm: Apparently the rain has blown over again - so the umpires have gone back out to have a chat with the groundsman out in the middle. Looks like they're still focusing their efforts on covering the pitch and square...
But we only get one more delivery, as the umpires decide that it's not worth persevering with - off go the players and on come the covers again. Sounds as if that might be it for the day, folks, what with the radar predicting more of the same.
Rain on the camera lens now too, the flag above the pavilion rippling - Rauf and Tucker have a chat but agree to hold on a bit longer
touch short and dropped towards midwicket, wide of the fielder and they scamper another one
slightly back of a length and over the top of off, Williamson defends from the crease
Cameras picking up rain on the horizon... The groundstaff readying the covers again
gets a stride in to defend into the off side
fullish length and coming back in from outside off, pushed back on the leg side
"I think I like the Williamson who doesn't hit it in the air better..." observes Jayden
short and wide from Broad, room for Williamson to play the back-cut, Compton dives at backward point and prevents four
fired in on off stump, solid forward defensive - maiden over, England trying to pin Taylor down for a bit
full and around the line of off, drives but picks out the man at cover
on the stumps, opens the face and pushes to point
on off, plays across the line and gets a low leading edge back to the bowler
angled in with the arm and straightening around off, pushed into the covers
on leg stump, stays back and works to square leg, where there is now a fielder
pitched up and worked through square leg along the ground
short again but this doesn't get up all that much and Williamson hooks, the ball is in the air for a long time on its way down to Pietersen at deep backward square, he seems to go back, rather than forward and it bounces in front of him - it was a flat hit but you wonder if Pietersen could have dived for it. Stuart Broad is certainly wondering that
goes across and plays out towards point
pitched up a bit more and pushed towards mid-on coming forward
on a length and played back down the track
fierce bouncer from Broad, at the man and he has to react quickly to drop under it
"No, it wasn't a biggie but a quake in Auckland was still a shock," says Simon Lord. "My brother was over from the UK last month - we managed to take in the T20 at Eden Park, which was the first 'away' match he's seen England play in 52 years - and I merrily told him, 'No, you don't get earthquakes in Auckland - just volcanoes.' Me and my big mouth..."
comes skipping out, on the drive and it squirts away square on the off side, though he manages to keep it down
Taylor hasn't waited long to get back on the attack, not all that wide from Panesar but the batsman hops back and steers delicately behind backward point