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Page last updated at 05:03 GMT, Saturday, 15 March 2008

NZ v England day three as it happened

SECOND TEST, Wellington, day three (close):
England 342 all out & 279-9 v New Zealand 198 all out

England reached 277-9 to extend their lead to 421 after three days of the second Test with New Zealand in Wellington.

Resuming 148 ahead at 4-0, they lost Michael Vaughan in the sixth over but Alastair Cook, dropped on five, shared 131 in 192 balls with Andrew Strauss.

Cook edged for 60, Strauss (44) fell in the next over and Kevin Pietersen (17) was run out at the non-striker's end.

Ian Bell (41) put on 59 with Paul Collingwood (59), dropped on nought, who compiled a gritty 10th Test fifty.

LATEST ACTION AS IT HAPPENS (ALL TIMES GMT)

By Paul Fletcher

Get involved. E-mail tms@bbc.co.uk (with 'For Paul Fletcher' in the subject), text 81111 (with "CRICKET" as the first word) or use 606 between 0900-2300 GMT. (Not all contributions can be used).

(See 0418) "I have played cricket with monks with the tennis ball and surprisingly, although they are barely 5'2" tall, they can

bowl at an awesome pace. They really can be short fast bowlers like Malinga."
Roshan, Nepal, via email

0500: The fourth day of this Test match will start with Monty Panesar and James Anderson at the crease (unless England declare). One cannot help but think that it will soon be about England trying to take wickets with the new ball.

Many thanks for all your e-mails, texts, maths debates, protestations of something or other for Alistair Cook. Sam Lyon is your clockwatch man on Saturday.

0453: The day's play comes to an end with England leading by 421 runs. It has been a day from which NZ can take a lot of credit, taking nine England wickets, but there is no doubt that England are in the box seat.

Wicket falls

0450: WICKET - Collingwood lbw b Gillespie 59 (277-9)

Six balls left and Colly has a go at a full one. He misses and Koertzen's finger slowly rises, bringing the day's play to a slightly premature end. Of course the irony is that he had turned Monty back when Panesar was looking for a third the previous ball.

0448: 277-8 Penultimate over of the day and Monty facing Martin. Not much landing in his half but he seems OK and drives the last ball for two. It could have been three but Colly decided otherwise. The Barmy Army are back on the Rocky track.

(See 0418) "I was playing cricket in a remote location of Nepal just two months ago, and I can confirm that Buddhist monks make very tasty fast bowlers, and they're quite nifty with a bat in their hands too - though for some unknown reason I haven't come across one that can keep wicket well yet."
Oliver, Nepal, via email

0445: 275-8 Gillespie, destroyer of tails enders, is caressed through the covers by Monty, who collects three runs, thank you very much. Not sure Monty runs three too often as he looked a bit whacked on the last. Gillespie tries to bounce Colly last ball to keep him on strike and that sort of semi-deliberate top-edged hook follows. Net result - four more runs.

(See 0413) "I'm a senior investment banker in New York. With the turmoil in financial markets, you are going to get tin tacked soon son, so put your feet up and enjoy England finally putting one over on the Kiwis."
Gareth, NY, via email

Not very nice Gareth.

0439: 268-8 Monty, full complement of slips behind him, pushes the ball into the cover region. A nice stroke but mass confusion follows over whether to take a single. They eventually press on and Colly escapes when Vettori unusually misses with a throw at the striker's end. Colly then pulls Martin to the ropes. Three overs left.

That's 50

0436: 262-8

Colly clips the ball away and brings up his half century off 57 balls. It is his second of the match and England's lead is now in excess of 400.

Out for a duck

0430: WICKET - Sidebottom c How b Gillespie 0 (260-8)

The crackerjack Gillespie roughs up Sidebottom with a couple of short ones. Siders struggles to avoid a well-directed straight one and loops one up to How in the gully region.

Wicket falls

0426: WICKET - Broad c McCullum b Martin 16 (259-7)

Broad drives and flicks Martin for two each and then tries to force the paceman off the backfoot only to nick behind. The end of a handy little cameo and in comes Ryan Sidebottom.

0420: 255-6 Lewis Hamilton on pole for the first Formula One Grand Prix of the season.

Back to Wellington, Broad is just about monopolising the strike. He faces all six balls of Mills's over, taking a single off the final delivery. Cheeky.

0418: 254-6 Martin comes in to bowl. CMJ in the TMS box says he looks a bit like a Buddhist monk with his shaven head. A Buddhist fast bowler. Now that is an idea.

0416: Some news for you. Marcus Trescothick has withdrawn for Somerset's pre-season tour to Dubai with a recurrence of his stress-related illness.

0413: 253-6 A massive lbw appeal by Mills. He is so far down the track that it looks as though he thrusting his backside in Broad's face. Was going down leg. Broad picks up a single and nicks the strike.

"Working in an investment bank in the City. It's Saturday 4am and I've worked 87 hours since 9am Monday morning already by my calculation. Cricket is only thing keeping me alive.
Gordon via email.

Gordon, go to bed. Or at least give us a slice of your whooping bonus when you get it later in the year as reward for all we are doing to keep you in touch with events in Wellington.

0410: 252-6 Broad plays through the vacant third man region for a boundary. Martin had previously gone past his outside edge. Broad looks pumped and a touch psycho when he runs in to bowl but as a batsman he has the look of a mop-topped nervous sixth-former entering the JCR for the first time.

(See 0316) "I can see you are going to be a marvellous edition to the TMS team, Paul! You evidently have the magical gift of the "Commentator's Curse". Congratulations!"
Sarah, Canterbury, via email

Something I've been working on. Timing is everything isn't it!

0404: 247-6 Oh, there are a few burnt faces in the Wellington crowd. Broad takes three off Mills' over.

"Any of the barmy Army wearing an orange wig? If so I know that man."
Andy, Calgary, via email.

Mate, mate, I've just seen him. Oh, hold on, there seem to be quite a few with orange wigs on.

0400: 243-6 Oram went past Stuart Broad's outside edge at the end of his previous over and does so again. Broad then inside edges one but the Kiwis, just to clear their throats, appeal for lbw nonetheless. Broad plays and misses. Looking a bit scratchy, to say the least. A push wide of Vettori at cover at least sees him get off the mark.

0355: 243-6 Colly hits a boundary off a thick edge. The Kiwis, who have had an excellent day all things considered, have nonetheless conceded too many runs through the third man region. To compound Mills' misery Colly then pulls another one for four and strikes yet another boundary through the aforementioned third man area.

Geoffrey Boycott

"There is no point in England throwing it away. Just keeping batting. What they want to do is get a lead of more than 400."
TMS summariser Geoffrey Boycott

Wicket falls

0324: WICKET - Ambrose b Oram 5 (231-6)

Oram strays to leg and Ambrose whips him away through the on-side. Four. No repeat of the first-innings pyrotechnics, though, as he is bowled by a fuller one that jags back a touch. Not a great shot as he was off balance. England lead by 375.

"Right you lot I am off to the Brass Monkey for a beer and a read of the papers in the sunshine. I will take you with me on the laptop if you promise to behave yourselves. They will have a wireless connection won't they? Come on Collie!."
Sarah, Perth WA, via email

Lucky old you. I can hear disco music pumping out from the Sport Relief post-show party across the way at television centre. Not helping my focus.

0346: 227-5 Mills looks surprised in the extreme to be thrown the new ball. Colly crashes the first delivery - short and wide - through the point region and to the ropes. He then edges but the ball falls short of Taylor at second slip.

0341: 223-5 You would have to say that England are grinding their way to a position of total supremacy. Which given recent form is no bad thing. Two runs off the last over before the new ball becomes available. A strange, short ball outside the off stump from Oram is bottom edged by Colly. Ambrose then plays and misses.

0337: 221-5 Vettori reels off a maiden and we have one more over before the second new ball is due.

0335: 221-5 Just the single for Colly as Oram keeps it tight.

"Just got up to sort out my new born son, checked the score, and wahey! My boy has peed all over the bed to celebrate! And why not!
Darren, tired in Norwich, via text on 81111

Don't worry Darren, I do that often.

0331: 220-5 A single off Vettori. The new ball will soon be available. England's lead is 364.

0328: 219-5 Ambrose out to the middle. He leaves the final ball of the Oram over alone. A wicket maiden. Bell and Colly put on 59.

Wicket falls

0324: WICKET - Bell c Sinclair b Oram 41 (219-5)

A loose drive from Bell, who fails to get over the top of a delivery wide of his stumps and rather loops the ball to point. A regulation catch from Sinclair, who has fielded well. Drinks are taken.

0321: 219-4 Colly shovels the ball towards mid-wicket for four. He plays that shot all the time in the shorter form of the game. I had been about to write that he was playing Vettori very watchfully.

0316: 214-4 A strange Test match this one. Just five wickets on day one, 15 on day two and so far four today. Oram is back on and Colly plays a smart cut but Sinclair stops well at backward point. Colly runs the ball away for a couple and moves on to 25. Monotonous cries of Barmy Army.

0314: 211-4 Vettori appeals for lbw but Colly is saved by a small inside edge. England's lead, by the way, is now more than 350, while Colly and Bell have put on 50.

0310: 210-4 Gillespie runs in but is clearly not happy when he reaches the crease. A groundsman comes on with a mallet and smashes it into the ground where Gillespie's front foot lands. All very strange. It doesn't really work as Bell plays the perfect off drive. When you see a shot like that Bell is like a piece of perfectly oiled and beautifully crafted machinery. Which makes it all the most frustrating that he isn't a touch more feared.

0305: 204-4 Vettori back in on but drops short and Colly is on to it quick as a flash, smashing to the ball to the ropes. It takes England past 200.

0301: 199-4 Bell drives Gillespie and Martin makes a decent diving stop at mid-on. With his shaven head and slightly looping stride Martin looks like a US Marine conscript with a co-ordination deficiency but you could not question his effort.

0257: 196-4 Bell adjusts the position of the top of his sleeves. Three off Gillespie's over. The trumpet player knocks out Only Fools and Horses. The sun shines.

Many thanks to David Wallace (Toledo, Spain) for likening my comment that "Colly would be out if Matthew Bell's throw hit but the Kiwi misses" to "a small earthquake in Chile with not many injured".

Colly would have been out, and by some distance, after a mix-up. I think, Mr Pedant, you are being captious in the extreme.

0254: 193-4 Gillespie is bowling a little straighter. Bell drives him for a couple, then another single. What percentage of his time at the crease does Bell spend adjusting the top of his sleeves? More or less than KP? The over is completed with Colly hitting another single. Tick, tock, tick, tock, the scoreboard slowly moving along.

0250: 189-4 Mills. Maiden. I guess that what you could say is that time is firmly on England's side with more than two days left.

(See 0229) "Obviously not. Even if women took only one second each to reject Tommy, he would have to spend almost 10 million years to garner that number of rejections."
Alan, Mexico, via email

0245: 189-4 Gillespie still probing outside the off stump. He drops one short of a length and Bell pulls him through mid-wicket for a boundary.

0241: 183-4 Birthday-boy Mills replaces Vettori and is slapped over mid-on to one that is slightly short of a length.

Last ball of the over and almost a run out. Colly plays a cut shot and wants a single. Bell sends him back as the ball goes straight to a fielder. Colly would be out if Matthew Bell's throw hit but the Kiwi misses.

"Hi Tony, Tonbridge and fellow Sarahs. I am still with you. Paul obviously doesn't follow his colleagues TMS when not on duty."
Sarah, Perth WA, via email

Maybe I was dumped by a Sarah as a teenager and have some kind of deep-seated antipathy to the name that can only be the product of jilted youth. Or maybe nobody told me about this Sarah thing.

0237: 179-4 Crackerjack operator Mark Gillespie is back into the attack. He has protection on the off side and is looking to throw it wide of off stump. Shame, normally he is a stand and deliver man. A maiden follows, though Bell does look like he is half tempted to have a go at the last ball.

0233: 179-4 Vettori resumes after tea, plenty of variation as always. England really do struggle to get him away. A controlled edge, should we say, brings Colly a couple.

0230: 177-4 The Black Caps (not Cats) go through a few loosening up exercises. I always resorted to a quick snout before taking to the field. Possibly a stiffener if I was about to face anyone who wanged it down quicker than a spinner.

0229: 177-4 Play about to restart. Now, England have a Ted Rogers lead (3-2-1). How do they play the final session? Really look to push on, but take a few risks that could see them leave with Dusty Bin. Or play it nice and steady as they look to win the speedboat?

(See 0122) "Tommy, is 514,229 x 433,494,437 the number of girls you have asked out that have told you to get lost?"
Mark, Rochdale, via text

Harsh. Very harsh. Quite funny though.

"I think I'll have to ignore the need for sleep this weekend; cricket and F1, then footy and Six Nations. There's just no time! I'm putting the kettle on."
Chris, Preston, via text on 81111

Chris, given that you are in Preston I can only assume that a late-night oversight is responsible for the failure to specifically mention Blackpool v North End.

Geoffrey Boycott

"New Zealand have had a great session. They have strangled England. I think England should bat for most of the final session if they can"
TMS summariser Geoffrey Boycott

0210: 177-4 Bell hits a great drive to the ropes off the final ball before tea. Now, let me try to get this right, England are 321 ahead. England lost three wickets in the session for 71 runs.

0206: 171-4 The attacking strokes have been put back in the locker with tea just minutes away. A defensive over from Colly against Vettori.

0203: 170-4 The Kiwis have bowled some good bouncers. Another one from Martin and Colly takes evasive action. Martin has really given it everything in this spell and bowls a maiden.

0159: 170-4 Vettori continues. England add two to the total. An intriguing phase of play, this, with tea 10 minutes away.

(See 0143) "Tony from Tonbridge, I've tried!"
Sarah, Canterbury, via email

Ah, now I understand.

0156: 168-4 Bell drives loosely and he is almost caught by, I think, Matthew Sinclair at point. Sinclair gets his fingertips to the ball at full stretch but cannot hold on. England seem to have become very aggressive all of a sudden and I'm not sure it is working. Martin appeals for lbw against Colly with a full length delivery. Going down leg side.

A bit like the first afternoon session this, with England losing wickets.

0150: 165-4 Colly comes so far down the track to smother a delivery of Vettori that he slips and almost does the splits. Then some serious drama. Colly miscues a lofted drive - he gets a big leading edge - and Gillespie drops it in the deep. Gillespie seemed to have it under control but then, at the last, the ball seemed to get away from him and the fielder only succeeded in helping the ball on its way to the boundary.

By the way, thanks to John in York for pointing out that at 0133 I had written Black Cats instead of Black Caps. Amended as necessary so as not to confuse Sunderland fans everywhere.

Wicket falls

0143: WICKET - Pietersen run out 17 (Eng 160-4)

Bell drives and Martin deflects the ball onto the stumps at the non-striker's end. Oh dear, KP is short of his ground. To his credit KP has a rueful smile on his face as he walks briskly off. I should add that Martin was simply trying to stop the ball rather than deliberately trying to manufacture a dismissal.

"What has happened to the comments from the lovely Sarhas?"
Tony, Tonbridge, via email

I'm new to all this. No idea.

"You know I make the greatest banoffee Pi."
Sarah, Bucks, via email

Very droll

0140: 160-3 Just a no-ball off the Vettori over.

0136: 159-3 KP pushes a single through the covers off Martin and a good drive from Bell to the same region is well fielded by Oram to prevent runs. England sitting comfortably.

0133: 158-3 A fine tussle developing between KP and Vettori. KP watchful. Not much spin for the Black Caps skipper, who might feel he should have had the wicket he wants in his previous over.

0129: 154-3 England coach Peter Moores is caught yawning as he watches the action. Must have been up all night planning England's victory strategy. Martin runs in, Bell bottom edges and McCullum stops the ball, just. The Black Cats keeper is not having a great time behind the stumps. Bell plays a controlled pull for a single.

0125: 152-3 England reach the 150 - taking their lead to just shy of 300. KP is not looking all that settled. He comes down the track to Vettori and plays quite a long way from his body.

0122: 148-3 Martin continues. He bowls a cracking bouncer at KP, who ducks underneath it. Bell scored two off a drive, then a single.

"It's just coming up to supper time here on Vancouver Island. Could I order a plate of that Fibonacci with a nice green salad on the side with a wisp of extra virgin and a touch of Balsamic. What's everyone else having?"
Brian, southern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, via email

0118: 145-3 Vettori back into the attack. KP on strike. A massive, massive appeal for lbw. He asks the umpire why it was not given. Perhaps an inside edge.

(See 0038) "Thank You Chris, I have actually stuck with some good friends and it does work for me! Going way way way back to the comment about the first Paul Fletcher that appeared on google - the first that appeared on my search was a motivational speaker that made over 400 appearances for Bristol City! You were on the second page of the search."
Dom, 14, From Portsmouth

Oh yes, Paul Fletcher. Played for Burnley for many years and was recently involved in the development of football stadia. I know all about that.

0112: 145-3 Martin back into the attack. KP plays that whipped pull off the front foot and Oram makes a great diving stop at mid-wicket. One off the over.

0107: 144-3 A short delivery and Bell is straight on it. The ball flies through the air but safely to the ropes.

0105: At the end of the last over Oram tried to engage in some chat with KP, who blanked him completely. And I mean completely.

0103: 140-3 KP walks down the track and whips the ball through mid-wicket and to the boundary ropes. He ends the over the drilling a full one down the field.

Is it me or when KP bobs up and down in his stance, backside in and out, does he looks like a matronly schoolteacher preparing her class for morning aerobics?

0100: 132-3 A big lbw shout against KP off the bowling of Mills. After a rather dull phase of play it is all happening now. KP takes a quick single to get himself off the mark.

(See 0027) "As I understand it at Vilspa (near Madrid) they receive and process data from scientific space missions. Mark is better known for his amateur astronomy being a famed comet observer."
Malcolm at another rocket-scientist's laboratory in Oxfordshire via email

130-3 Bell joins KP in the middle. Bell off the mark with a single. Just a sniff for NZ now - a key phase of the game coming up.

Wicket falls

0051: WICKET - lbw b Oram 44 (Eng 127-3)

KP is out in the middle but Strauss is on strike and he misses a ball across him that straightens. A massive blow for Strauss, who had been gritty in the extreme, and not good news for England. Two wickets in two overs.

Wicket falls

0046: WICKET - Cook c Fleming b Mills 60 (Eng 127-2)

Wow, the dramaometor is going through the roof. Strauss shoulders arms to Mills. A massive appeal for lbw, but umpire Koertzen refuses to raise the digit of death. On height, I think. Mills does get his reward, however, later in the over when Cook edges one and Fleming takes a great low catch at slip. Strauss and Cook put on 106 but once again an England batsman failed to convert a score into a hundred. It is the subject that will not go away.

0043: 126-1 Strauss breaks the sequence without scoring, pulling Oram to the boundary. Three more follow and the 100 partnership comes up between Strauss and Cook - 101 in 184 balls to be precise. Cook then whips the ball superbly through mid-wicket. Hold on, 11 off the over. Reeeeemarkable, as the great David Coleman would say.

0038: 115-1 Mills. Maiden. Attrition. "You've got to play chess," explains Geoffrey Boycott.

(See 0016) "I'm 16 and the closest thing I've ever had to being smashed was being slightly tipsy in Ronnie Scott's (the jazz club). It's really not that big a deal. Find some good friends, stick with them. It's worked for me so far."
Chris, Surrey, via email

Very sensible, though we all know what jazz fans enjoy.

0036: Or perhaps Caledonian Thistle. Or Cape Town?

0035: 115-1 Oram. Maiden.

Apparently CT (See 0019) is Connecticut, USA. I would have definitely misspelt that had I not asked around in the office. Thanks to Daniel Higgins for the info.

0030: 115-1 Cook clips Mills through mid-wicket for two and then a boundary to break the monotony. We all needed that to wake us up from the slumber that's set in since lunch.

0027: 109-1 Oram continues, probing away outside off stump. You would not say that he has been successful in persuading the England lads to take a few risks. Another maiden.

"Yes, Paul (2328) is quite right. The 9th Fibonacci Prime would be 377 and would increase his liability to 1183.78GBP. Best to stay with the 9th Fibonacci number, especially if his wife is going to find out."
Mark the rocket scientist (no really), Madrid, via email

Hmm. A fair few have questioned your original calculations. What do you do as a rocket scientist? Do you send ships into space? Can I have a go in one?

0023: 109-1 Mills bowling. Just the single taken off the over and increasingly defensive fields. Two slips became one.

0019: 108-1 What was the net result of the latest Oram over? Not a maiden, by any chance.

"I'm surprised that no-one has noticed/commented that Pietersen's score in the first Innings dropped his career average below the magical 50.0 mark. With Strauss now averaging less than 40.0 it may be a time for a big knock from either or both of them."
Ross, CT, via email

Any offers on where CT is?

0016: 108-1 Strauss tucks Mills for a couple off his legs. He moves to 33 - what he wouldn't give for a half century?

"Any suggestions to the ninth prime Fibonacci number? I am 14 years old, and am sitting at my computer trying to digest the chat that is going on here. And yes, I do realise that most of my mates are out getting smashed whilst I am here following the England cricket team!"
Dom, Portsmouth, via text on 81111

Dom, if you really are 14 then you are doing the right thing. Not sure you should be "out getting smashed". Plenty of time for that later, trust me. Very long text message, by the way.

0012: 106-1 Oram opens the bowling after lunch bowling to Cook, who seems a firm favourite with the ladies. We open the afternoon session with a maiden. Oram so far has figures of 8-5-12-0.

Geoffrey Boycott

"Mentally Strauss has been in turmoil but he has worked jolly hard so far and that is the biggest plus for England."
TMS summariser Geoffrey Boycott

0010: The players are back out. England will doubtless be hoping to pile on the runs through the afternoon session. Will Cook convert (lets face it - there has been enough talk about making the most of good starts) and will Strauss get into the runs?

(See 2313) "Being a female of gentle years, the crockery can go hang, if young Mr Cook turned up at my house it wouldn't be the crockery that I'd get out!
Chrissy, North Notts, via email

Now, now, I know it is Friday and we've all probably had a drink (well I haven't) but there is no need for that sort of innuendo and suggestion on these fine, morally upstanding pages.

(See 2309) "For those who don't know, or are not aware, pi is not simply 3.14 - which would suggest it is a terminating decimal. Its decimal expansion is in fact infinite (that is, if you were to try and write it out in full, you would never get to the end of it! Thus Paul is in fact offering 3.14159265... x 34 = £106.81 to the nearest pence (in fact slightly more). The extra 5 pence could make all the difference, you never know with charity fund raising events! If Mark is indeed a rocket scientist - tut tut. I wouldn't recommend making such mistakes in the day job, Mark!"
Tommy, Exeter, via email

Enough, enough. I've just had a pork pie (yes, disgusting, a sober pork post-midnight pie) and that is the only pi/e chat from now on.


Vic Marks

"England are in a terrific position - but the only caveat for when they come to bowl is the way the wicket is playing. It has quietened down."
TMS summariser Vic Marks

That's 50

2328: 106-1

Cook pushes the ball into space off the last ball of Vettori's over and reaches 50. It has been a good morning for him as he also struck his first six in international cricket. England now lead by 250 as Cook and Strauss wander off for lunch. Something I'm going to do as well.

(See 2309) "Yes, Mark Kidger is correct on my possible financial liability - my kids grow up too quick. Just as well I didn't go for the ninth Fibonacci prime, mind, or I'd have been in the doo-doo."
Paul, Lancashire, via email

I'm just cutting and pasting here, completely left behind by this thread.

2325: 100-1 The Black Caps appeal for a caught behind off Strauss. The ball, short of a length, was slanted across him and down the leg side from Gillespie but seemed to flick Strauss' hip. A single brings up the 100 - giving England a lead of 244.

(See 2317) "Cook is the type of batsman that women love. He just goes out there and bats for a long time, looking gorgeous."
Catherine, Newcastle, via email

2321: 98-1 Disappointing. Vettori comes on to bowl and I cannot but shake my head as I notice that he has shaved off his most excellent beard. maybe he is looking for a change of fortune for his team. Strauss cuts the first ball to the ropes and adds to his tally with another two.

2317: 92-1 Cook drives Gillespie to the ropes and the Essex man moves on to 46 - his highest Test score against New Zealand, as many of you pointed out via text and email. Two off the pads take Cook to 48.

Vic Marks

"Cook is the type of batsman that captains love. He just goes out there and bats for a long time, rarely giving his wicket away."
TMS summariser Vic Marks

2313: 84-1 Don't you think Cook has a great temperament? Looks unflappable, good under pressure. I'd want him in my fantasy trench. And for the ladies, I imagine he is the sort of young man you could introduce to your parents. Have your mother rushing for the finest crockery.

Oram strays in line and the ball hits Strauss on the pads and runs away for a boundary. Two twos add to the tally.

2309: 76-1 It is steady away here for Cook and Strauss. Not what I would call a free-scoring period of play but relatively few alarms. Three taken off Gillespie's over.

(See 2256) "For those who don't know, or have not read the Da Vinci Code, the 9th number of the Fibonacci Sequence is 34. Thus Paul is offering 3.14x34=£106.76 to Sport Relief. A generous offer. Note it down!"
Mark Kidger via email

Mark, apparently, works for the European Space Agency and is, literally, a rocket scientist. Makes sense really.

2305: 73-1 Oram seems to have hurt his knee, not that it prevents him beating Strauss outside his off stump next ball. Ah, here is the answer. A seagull flies across the pitch and Oram aborts his delivery - that's how you stop him. A maiden.

(See 2224) "For every 100 England win by I'll donate £50 to Sport Relief. Failing that, if we win by less than one 100, I'll donate £2 for every 10 runs we win by."
Luke, Cardiff, via email

2300: 73-1 Just to point out that the scorecard does indeed erroneously say day two and not day three. We are hopeful that after midnight GMT it will correct itself. I know, I know. Not my fault, honest. One taken off Gillespie's over.

2256: 72-1 Oram continues to wheel away around the wicket, probing outside Strauss' off stump. He persuades Strauss to play and miss. A maiden.

My other half has an allotment that is in need of a bit of work. Looking at Strauss this morning he is pretty good at his gardening. I've also been told that lives about 500 yards from said allotment. See what I'm thinking.

"If England were to score 280 in their second innings, they would then have amassed approximately 3.14 times as many runs as New Zealand to that point. This would be marvellous, as it would be fit appropriately with today's worldwide 'Pi Day' (3/14/2008), on which geeky maths loving people celebrate the unending joy and mystery of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. If they do, I'll donate £3.14 to Sports Relief, multiplied by ninth number of the Fibonacci sequence, as it's my son's 9th birthday today, and as I'm a geek."
Paul, Lancashire, via email

I don't think anyone will argue with that, or the very last part at least. When it comes to Pi, it is strictly meat and potato for me, made, of course, in Lancashire. Wonderful.

2252: 72-1 Strauss works Gillespie away for a couple and then diverts a full delivery through square for a single. He has reached 15 and looked reasonably comfortable so far. Cook drives through mid-off and the ball runs to the ropes.

2248: 65-1 The trumpet man plays Yesterday, the sun beats down and the Basin Reserve is all but full. A friend of mine went to school about 100 yards from the ground. Not interesting, I know. Oram bowls a maiden.

(See 2224) "Great shout by Ken, Sutton. I'll match his pledge and double it if England can bat all day to close."
Denis Ryan via email

2244: 65-1 Mark Gillespie comes on. He seems to either take a wicket or disappear to the ropes. If you merged Mark Ealham and Martin McCague you wouldn't be too far away. I reckon you could put 100 blokes in a line-up and he would not be selected as the one professional athlete until most of the others had returned home to their wives and children, eaten a roast chicken dinner and watched some prime time TV (not of the dancing variety). Four off the over.

2239: 61-1 Cook tucks Oram away off his legs for a couple and then hits a single. Strauss then works the ball through mid-wicket for two more. England are ticking along nicely.

2232: 56-1 A great sliding stop from Matthew Bell denies Strauss a boundary off Martin following a drive from a widish ball. The end of the first hour and drinks come on to the field. England lead by 199.

(See 2224) "And I'll donate £50 to Sport Relief if Cook hits another six in today's play."
Dale, Milton Keynes, via email

I'm noting down all these pledges you know. Come on Cooky, throw off the shackles and batter one.

2228: 51-1 Oram into the attack, he had just one over at the start of the day. He comes around the wicket to Strauss, who is happy to leave the ball outside his off stump. Oram goes back over the wicket and Strauss plays out a maiden.

(See 2210) "With apologies to James, England's last 100+ first innings' lead was at the Riverside in June 2007, again against the West Indies. They also managed a 97 run lead over India at Lords in July and a 92 run lead over Sri Lanka at Kandy in December."
Steve via email

Knowledge, Steve, knowledge.

2224: 51-1 Strauss has not had much of the strike so far. Martin comes around the wicket and Strauss scores a single with a push out to the cover region.

"I'll donate £50 to Sport Relief if England score 256 giving them an unassailable lead of 400!!"
Ken, Sutton Coldfield, via email

We'll hold you to that, if we can.

2223: 50-1 Cook plays through third man again for another boundary. Boycott on TMS is perplexed to say the least by the presence of three fielders in the cover/mid-off region but no third man. Cook works the ball through mid-wicket for a couple and the total ticks round to 50.

2215: 44-1 Martin continues, he has worked hard this morning but a short one is dismissed by Cook, who rather top edges a pull stroke. After some deliberation Cook is awarded his first six in Test cricket.

"Sat watching the pictures on TV, listening to TMS on dab radio and reading your patter on my phone. Who needs a social life?? What do we reckon for a declaration? Lead of 400 and then a cheeky few overs before the close.
Kev, Newcastle, via email

Kev, you are soooooooooooo new media.

2210: 37-1 Apologies for any problems with the scorecard - it is out of our control, but rest assured we have the greatest minds possible on a Friday evening looking into it. Apparently it says Cook is out. He might not be in great touch but that is pushing it a bit.

(See 2158) "The last time England had a 100-run lead after the first innings was against the West Indies in Leeds last May. I was there. It was a great game."
James via text on 81111

2206: 35-1 Cook drives Martin through mid-off to the ropes and then hits a slight streaky boundary with a thick edge.

"Crikey, thanks for the offer of marriage but I am strictly only here for the cricket. Even got my lucky socks on. Come on England, 250 runs should do it!"
Denise, Salford, via email

And let that be the end of it. Denise wants to focus on her cricket - and who can blame her?

2202: 27-1 Cook leaves one from Mills that misses, just. Not much more drama in the over. Just a single.

2158: 26-1 Strauss out into the middle - a big innings for him. First up, though, it is Martin into Cook - and a superb yorker that the batsman digs out. Cook then takes a single and Strauss is off the mark with a boundary, glancing the ball fine.

Wicket falls

2153: WICKET - Vaughan c McCullum b Mills 13 (Eng 21-1)

Mills slants a ball across Cook that finds the outside edge. McCullum dives across Fleming at first slip and drops the ball. A bad miss and England take a single. Vaughan rubs salt into the wounds by cracking a boundary. But Mills then gets one to leave Vaughan, who edges to the keeper. Lovely shape to that delivery.

Vic Marks

"Vaughan has shown signs this morning that he is seeing the ball reasonably well and smells a few runs."
TMS summariser Vic Marks

"Can anyone tell us when was the last time England had a 100+ lead after the first innings in a test match?"
Peter, Esher, via email

Good question - and offers? Denise, by the way, has now had a proposal of marriage and messages of support from several teenage girls.

2148: 16-0 Cook works a single, pushing the ball wide of Vettori. Vaughan drives a fullish delivery to the ropes for the first boundary of the day.

(See 2133) The inbox is becoming clogged up with messages for Denise. It seems that her idea of staying in on a Friday to watch a scorecard ticking over on her computer tickles the fancy of quite a few of you out there.

2144: 11-0 Mills bowls, it is a maiden. A slow start to the day.

"He (Strauss) will score runs when the pressure is off?! What use is that? He is an opener and if he is not good enough to get in as one then I say tough luck. As for Monty - he will be gone in the summer for that Rashid chap at Yorkshire!"
Rob, Leeds, via email

Honestly Rob, you are such a harsh critic. You sound like a true Yorkshireman, but one who probably loves a game of poker or something!

2142: 11-0 So, Oram bowled the first over but Martin is tossed the ball for the third. Cook off the mark for the day with a couple. A circumspect, watchful start.

2138: 9-0 Mills bowls the second over, Vaughan on strike. Juts a hint of swing, but not much. Cook has not faced a delivery yet.

"I am in the Falkland Islands on holiday watching progress on a slow internet connection. It adds to the suspense!! I hope England have a good day."
Phil, Falkland Islands, via email

My brother was in the Falklands once, alas it was 1982.

2133: 7-0 An early blast of Jerusalem and Oram runs in. Vaughan survives a leg before appeal. A thick, controlled edge down to third man follows and the day's first runs appear on the board - three of them.

(See below) "If you think that is bad GP I am a 24 year old woman, have said no to at least three social invites tonight so I can watch the score flip over on a website page! All for the love of Cricket....yes, I am single!"
Denise via email

2127: A cracking sunny day as Vaughan and Cook approach the crease.

"Strauss is still a class act, confidence is just a major factor in all sports! He will come good and I think if England post a good total with the openers and the pressure is off, it could be today."
Mike, Liverpool, via email

Looking at the emails that have come in there is clearly a lot of divided opinion about Strauss. Matthew from Preston uses the word 'enigma'. But in Test cricket enigmas must still put runs on the board.

As for all the emails suggesting that a Monty mis-field was key yesterday because it kept Vettori off strike and allowed Colly to finish off the tail - come on! Does anyone really buy that?

And really - toads cannot type. Tittle tattle of the highest order.

"I am 29 years old, sat on a Friday night waiting for TMS to start, while defragmenting my C drive. I am really glad I already have a girlfriend."
GP, Cheshire, via email

Having listened to Geoff Boycott on TMS yesterday talking about his computer like it was a piece of alien machinery, I can assure you that he would not have a clue what you are talking about. Broadly thinking, though, I think you make a sound point.

2115: I have just heard the great Beefy declare that today is a great day to be batting. We'll see.

2111: Just to recap - England are 4-0 in their second innings, a lead of 148, having survived a tricky 20 minutes at the end of day two.

Strauss was in the nets very early this morning - would it be an exaggeration to suggest today could decide whether or not he a Test future?

2108: A quick bit of weather chat - a fine morning in Wellington, a rather dreary, damp evening in London!

2100 Day three - the one where England really ram home their advantage. Perhaps.

Something cracking play yesterday, particularly Jimbo's excellent bowling.

In fact, the only Englishman who will perhaps have winced as he watched a replay of yesterday's action is Monty. It was back to the bad old days in the field for our favourite spinner, the times when the ball was remote controlled with someone playing cruel tricks on him.

I've just looked in the TMS inbox, by the way, and seen this:

I just searched 'Paul Fletcher' on Google to see what you looked like and first up was a toad - not pretty at that! Not you, is it?
Richard, Banpong, Thailand, via email

Toads cannot type Richard.



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see also
England poised to set huge target
15 Mar 08 |  England
New Zealand v England photos
14 Mar 08 |  England
NZ v England day two as it happened
14 Mar 08 |  England
NZ v England day one as it happened
13 Mar 08 |  England
New Zealand thrash woeful England
09 Mar 08 |  England
England in New Zealand 2008
26 Mar 08 |  Cricket


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