England bowling coach frustrated
England's bowlers were collectively short of their best as bad weather and a bland pitch conspired against them at the Basin Reserve.
James Anderson's dismissal of Peter Fulton was the tourists' only success as rain limited day four of the second Test to 34 overs and, with more downpours forecast on Monday, made a second successive stalemate against New Zealand by far the likeliest outcome in Wellington.
Kane Williamson (55no) and Ross Taylor doubled the total in an unbroken stand of 81, after Anderson had Fulton fencing an edge to slip in the fifth over of an uninterrupted morning session.
The remnants of Cyclone Sandra then arrived on cue at lunchtime, wiped out the afternoon and permitted only another five overs in total - during which the hosts advanced to 162 for two to trail by only 49 after following on on Saturday.
Anderson's body language was, throughout, that of someone battling physical issues - it has been suggested he has both a stiff back and sore heel - but bowling coach David Saker insisted afterwards England's lynchpin seamer is injury-free.
Stuart Broad remained the most obvious threat, after his first-innings six for 51, but went wicketless - as did his fellow pace bowler Steven Finn - and although Monty Panesar found some turn, he could not add to his success the previous evening when he had Hamish Rutherford caught at leg-slip.
It all had Saker ruing both a steadfastly unresponsive surface and an attack which was not quite firing on full cylinders.
"Trying to get batsmen out on this, you need all three of your quicks working really well together," he said.
"We've done that in patches, but we know when we put it together as a three-quicks-and-a-spinner combination we are pretty hard to handle - no matter what surface we get."
Broad was the pick of the crop again, back to his best since the pain abated in his left heel after forcing him home early from England's Test tour of India in December.
"He obviously struggled in India with an injury, and it is testament to the medical staff to get him back," added Saker.
"He had an injury that could have lasted a lot longer than it did.
"He's come back, looked good yesterday ... and his pace has been really encouraging."
Neither Finn nor Anderson has been as impressive here.
"Injury-wise, he's fine," Saker said of the former. "I think he's just struggling for a little bit of rhythm.
"The high standards he sets, he'd probably say he's below his best at the moment.
"But we know (he's) one spell or two spells away from probably changing a game."
The bowling coach believes the same is true of Finn, while Panesar appeared to be hampered as much as anyone by the slow pitch.
"I think Monty at times has looked really dangerous, over the wicket, and around," said Saker.
"It's not one of those wickets that really zips and turns that he was used to in India.
"He just hasn't had that zip he might have wished for."
Both in Wellington and Dunedin, where England drew the first Test last week, slow-motion cricket has prevailed - to the dismay of Saker.
"Just for a spectacle of Test cricket, this isn't the greatest way," he said.
"Anyone watching the game wants to see the ball bounce through and sometimes it's a bit frustrating for the spectators.
"If you watched the Twenty20 and one-day games, they were played on very good and fast wickets - which produced some good cricket.
"The two Test wickets we've played on have been quite opposite to that."
It is a moot point to Saker whether that is by design, to help New Zealand negate England's firepower, or chance.
"I don't know whether it's something that New Zealand Cricket would put out, or just the way the wickets are," he continued.
"Just from where I'm sitting, I always like to see the ball get through and the batsmen playing off both front and back foot ... seeing catches behind the wicket always excites me.
"This makes it really hard for both batsmen to score and bowlers to prise their wickets out."
The only one England managed today was Fulton's.
The stubborn opener still cited Anderson as England's best bowler, but said: "It looked like he was struggling with something maybe ... I'm not sure whether it was injury or the footholds.
"But as we found out in Dunedin, when you spend a lot of time out there, it obviously takes its toll (on the bowlers)."
"There's some turn there for Panesar. But for the seamers, especially with the older ball, it's pretty placid."
Saker knows that all too well, but believes his bowlers are good enough to overcome it.
"Test cricket is really tough work, and you sometimes expect it to be hard," he said.
"But we just soldier on and try to get the best result we can."
England will need lots of help from the weather, as well as a bit more from the pitch, to do that tomorrow.