England crumble in first Test in New Zealand

England’s Test series in New Zealand got off to a disastrous start, despite coach Andy Flower’s demands that the team hit the ground running. England have been slow starters in away series for several years, but Dunedin saw them reach a new low.

Some senseless batting saw England, who had opted to bat first, all out for 167. New Zealand then demonstrated that conditions had nothing to do with it by accumulating a serene 131 without losing a wicket. England must now rely on the weather or a miraculous recovery to save the opening Test, and may yet be grateful that the first day was rained off.

A collective lack of basic concentration seems to have afflicted the England batsmen, although for once Kevin Pietersen was not one of the culprits. He was bowled first ball, lbw to an excellent delivery. His team-mates tended to give their wickets away.

Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior and Stuart Broad all fell dismally to routine deliveries. Jonathon Trott seemed to be offering sustained resistance until he too played a misguided shot. Only a spirited partnership from tailenders Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn prevented England’s total from being truly humiliating.

New Zealand opener Hamish Rutherford, making his Test debut, wasn’t too concerned with Anderson and Finn’s bowling, cruising to an effortless half-century and looking set to put New Zealand in an unassailable position, with his partner Peter Fulton looking equally comfortable.

Former captain Michael Vaughan was critical of England’s attitude. "England didn't respect the game," Vaughan said on the BBC’s Test Match Special. "England's mindset has been over-confident; they weren't prepared to do the hard yards."

Trott admitted, "We put ourselves under pressure with our performance with the bat. I don't think it's a lack of effort; we made a conscious effort to start the series really well. We have got to fight our way back into this cricket match."

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