There is a rhythm to a Test match, a classic structure. Slow, slowish, quick, then quicker still, it all builds to the final act, the shoot-out on the fifth afternoon. Well, not this one. It has marched to the beat of a different drum: super-slow, super-quick, non-existent. Following yesterday’s wash-out, more than half the playing time has already elapsed, and we’ve only had an innings and a bit. The draw is such a hot favourite that if you decide to back it, you’ll have to shell out a tenner for every £3 you stand to win.
If you are a betting person, the horse to back is surely New Zealand. Put a fiver on them and you could win £23. The rain, coming on top of Devon Conway’s dream debut, has left Kane Williamson in the driving seat.
England, resuming on 111 for 2 and missing all their all-rounders (Stokes, Buttler, Woakes, Curran), could easily be bowled out for 250. That would take about half the day, leaving the other half for the New Zealanders to extend their lead. They could rattle up 200 by noon tomorrow, to hand England a target of about 330 in 80 overs.
In a parallel universe, England would race to 450, bowl NZ out for 160, and win by eight wickets. All Joe Root would have to do is make 180 and then grab one of his cheap five-fors. Stranger things have almost happened.
Play starts at 11am, as ever – the extra eight overs in the day, if we get them, will be tacked on at the end. See you shortly.