New Zealand v England, 1st Test, Dunedin, 2nd day March 7, 2013

England wasteful in 'home' conditions

England's inauspicious start to Test cricket in 2013 was a consequence of their failure to bat well in conditions that should have reminded them of the beginning of the County Championship
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It has not been a good week for England, but the second day in Dunedin comprehensively trumped the other setbacks. Beaten in Queenstown, they were then greeted yesterday with the news that their premier spinner, Graeme Swann, requires elbow surgery and, when play finally got underway at University Oval, they were bundled out for 167 by a left-arm quick who had three Tests under his belt and a debutant left-arm spinner.

If it had not been for the lush green outfield and packed banks around the ground it could almost have been Ahmedabad (191 all out), Galle (193 all out) or Dubai (192 and 160 all out), venues for England's three previous Tests tours that have started with defeat and been characterised by limp batting in the first innings. A partial defence to those displays is that they were in conditions far removed from home, but what faced them in Dunedin was straight out of the start of the English domestic season.

County cricketers, currently putting in the final month of preparation for the early April start to the County Championship, will expect conditions similar, if not tougher, than this; a breezy, chilly morning with some lingering cloud cover, a pitch that had been covered for close to 24 hours and the new ball in the hands of competent swing bowlers. To make it worse, apart from early on with the new ball, there was not much on offer for the seamers.

It is what England's batsmen have been schooled in, yet what followed over the next 55 overs was an opening-day performance as poor as any since Andy Flower took over. New Zealand bowled well, but this was not Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander or Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson. Bruce Martin will rarely pick up more gifted wickets. The end-of-play score suggests the No. 2 team in the world taking on the No. 8 - but not the way around that was expected

This is already shaping to the latest chapter in England's early series horror-shows overseas. Flower says it was one of his priorities when he took over to ensure the team did not always have ground to make up. However, excluding victory over Bangladesh in Chittagong in 2010 you have to go back to Port Elizabeth, in 2004, for the last time England began an away series with a win.

To turn this match around will go against history. On only 13 occasions have England won after making less than 167 batting first, and the most recent of those was 1979 against Australia at Sydney when they turned around a total of 152. This was also their lowest score batting first against New Zealand.

The way New Zealand moved to 131 without loss at the close - with a brand-new opening pair - was equally worrying for England and only went to highlight the wastefulness of their performance. They knew they would have to graft for success in India, and followed the lead of Alastair Cook, but today's performance smacked of a side that, at least subconsciously, expected things to come more easily.

The lack of a longer warm-up period will be cited as one reason for the collapse. Ideally every Test series would have a minimum two, if not three, first-class matches but conflicting demands on the schedules means those days have passed except ahead of Ashes campaigns. The players, too, are often not keen to tour for longer than they have to, so they can't have it both ways.

And, in reality, only two of England's top order were significantly short of time in the middle ahead of this series. Nick Compton made 21 and 1 in against the New Zealand XI while Kevin Pietersen only contributed 14 and 8. They both collected ducks on the second day, Compton bowled off a weak defensive shot and Pietersen trapped lbw first ball by an excellent delivery from Wagner, but in a top order where six of the top seven average over 40 that should not have been terminal.

It was the shot selection of the batsman who played themselves in that was most damaging for England. Cook, having just been dropped, picked out point; Ian Bell drove lazily to short cover; Matt Prior slapped to backward point; Jonathan Trott top-edged a sweep. Stuart Broad's slog sweep, which picked out the man pushed back to deep square that delivery, was head-in-hands moment but Broad's batting has regressed so much it did not come as a huge surprise.

Before the close England had Trott bowling with a single slip in place and a widely-spread field. One (horrendously) bad day does not have to define their year, but in 2012 their Test cricket took a dive after making a poor start against Pakistan in the UAE. This was not the statement England needed to make at the start of an Ashes year.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Erebus26 on March 7, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    It was a poor first day for England but I'm confident they can turn it around. Previous away tours (with the exception of Pakistan in the UAE) have seen England come back from first test blues. Wagner and Martin won't have better figures than this to be honest which is embarrassing for England because they are two limited bowlers imo. But credit to McCullum - a lot of stick came his away when Taylor was removed, but he got things spot on yesterday and he seemed far more positive than Cook when NZ came out to bat. I think Rutherford has the makings of a decent test opener. Yes, he won't get a better pitch than that to play on but he was nice and compact, keeping out the good deliveries and putting away the bad ones. I don't think Fulton is the long term answer as his opening partner but I was impressed by the way he grafted and came through a tricky period when facing Finn. I hope NZ can put a decent score on the board and put some real pressure on England going forward.

  • stogster on March 8, 2013, 2:33 GMT

    I think it's hilarious that on the very next day after Vaughan and Atherton were pillorying the Australian batting line-up after their capitulation in India, NZ have put England to the sword.

    I remember the last time "the worst Australian batting lineup in a generation" went to England. I am pretty sure Athers was on the receiving end that time... how easily one forgets!

  • neil99 on March 8, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    Very poor and unacceptable batting will be greeted with the usual flannel "we'll learn from our mistakes and move on" only England do not learn from their mistakes. Tours need to be longer so teams are more prepared for the condtions and the ECB should stop pandering to players - they often miss various aspects of the tours anyway. Representing your country is a priveledge that requires sacrifice as the rewards in terms of prestige and money are considerable.

  • DocBindra on March 7, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    It really is very enjoyable watching this English team struggle and being humbled...I love it...keep it going Kiwis.

  • on March 7, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    Apart from the infantile batting display against very ordinary test bowling the real England weakness is their complete inability to make any impact on anyone when conditions aren't set in their favour. This glaring and regular underperformance with the ball (remember Tino Best getting 95) is a real worry and even the New Zealand batting, not noted for their test match resistance, are too much for the England bowling attack on this turgid, beautifully prepared home pitch. Don't expect any bounce or pace in the remaining games.

  • halsterry on March 7, 2013, 20:51 GMT

    England did underperform but credit must be given to McCullum and his crew. He made some astute captaining decisions and bustled an arrogant England out of the park. The length bowled was very good, it was a benign pitch fractionally two-paced but you would expect more runs on a pitch like this from any international team. I don't buy it that they didn't have enough preparation. Perhaps now they will show some respect to the NZers and play better otherwise it will be a kiwi whitewash!

  • king78787 on March 7, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    i dont think all is lost for england BUT they cannot win from this position. Only a decent showing from Cook, compton, trott can see them draw this match. Only the pietersen dismissal was a truly excellent delivery, the rest were poor shot selection.

  • on March 7, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    The lack of a winning combination will show its result in about a couple of days. Swann out means a lot for England. This team enters a rough phase at a wrong time. The Indian triumph may be remembered for long. They have not been performing okay ever since they entered the Kiwi land. Much expected from England who had a recent high(no doubts about it), but have lost the number one title. Nerves may not be at the right place...every time a turn around..ohhh,..this ain't a sequel. May be they all got relaxed with their supremacy and here comes the downfall.

  • Aniltadimeti on March 7, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    But Andrew,they(the English) did have time. If i remember, the third ODI ended on 23rd and the test started on 6th. A gap of 10 days. Surely, they could have had another 3 day game. Or at least a two day game. And this is all the more significant as they are playing 3 back to back tests. And probably they were expecting wickets to be less helpful to bowlers, given the time of the year(As in Mar-Apr, NZ have produced some batting wickets in the past). No denying the fact that they batted poorly. Having said that, this team seems to have great resilience. Maybe it will be a repeat of 2008.

  • chugster on March 7, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    Lets get this straight...Kiwis played brilliantly today and should win this at a canter.But England will bounce back ,its what they do time and time again. For all those who go on about series wins/losses - england have only lost at home to SA other wise unbeaten in 4 years and beyond.Touring drawn in SA,sri lanka,Thrashed Aus,beat india,bangla and NZ.Only blip Pakistan when battered by 2 class spinners and even then we should have won 2-1 but for a lack of bottle and then brains. We are however not as good as some think.....but SA apart nor is any other country.Aus are in a woeful state, i actually feel sorry for them and after years of misery i never thought id say that! Cant wait for the ashes in England when our bowlers dismantle possibly the worst batting line up in Australian cricket history.If clarke gets injured it could be hilarious. Days like this happen in sport,its why it is so compelling,i love it and while im dissapointed ,england will come again.

  • Erebus26 on March 7, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    It was a poor first day for England but I'm confident they can turn it around. Previous away tours (with the exception of Pakistan in the UAE) have seen England come back from first test blues. Wagner and Martin won't have better figures than this to be honest which is embarrassing for England because they are two limited bowlers imo. But credit to McCullum - a lot of stick came his away when Taylor was removed, but he got things spot on yesterday and he seemed far more positive than Cook when NZ came out to bat. I think Rutherford has the makings of a decent test opener. Yes, he won't get a better pitch than that to play on but he was nice and compact, keeping out the good deliveries and putting away the bad ones. I don't think Fulton is the long term answer as his opening partner but I was impressed by the way he grafted and came through a tricky period when facing Finn. I hope NZ can put a decent score on the board and put some real pressure on England going forward.

  • stogster on March 8, 2013, 2:33 GMT

    I think it's hilarious that on the very next day after Vaughan and Atherton were pillorying the Australian batting line-up after their capitulation in India, NZ have put England to the sword.

    I remember the last time "the worst Australian batting lineup in a generation" went to England. I am pretty sure Athers was on the receiving end that time... how easily one forgets!

  • neil99 on March 8, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    Very poor and unacceptable batting will be greeted with the usual flannel "we'll learn from our mistakes and move on" only England do not learn from their mistakes. Tours need to be longer so teams are more prepared for the condtions and the ECB should stop pandering to players - they often miss various aspects of the tours anyway. Representing your country is a priveledge that requires sacrifice as the rewards in terms of prestige and money are considerable.

  • DocBindra on March 7, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    It really is very enjoyable watching this English team struggle and being humbled...I love it...keep it going Kiwis.

  • on March 7, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    Apart from the infantile batting display against very ordinary test bowling the real England weakness is their complete inability to make any impact on anyone when conditions aren't set in their favour. This glaring and regular underperformance with the ball (remember Tino Best getting 95) is a real worry and even the New Zealand batting, not noted for their test match resistance, are too much for the England bowling attack on this turgid, beautifully prepared home pitch. Don't expect any bounce or pace in the remaining games.

  • halsterry on March 7, 2013, 20:51 GMT

    England did underperform but credit must be given to McCullum and his crew. He made some astute captaining decisions and bustled an arrogant England out of the park. The length bowled was very good, it was a benign pitch fractionally two-paced but you would expect more runs on a pitch like this from any international team. I don't buy it that they didn't have enough preparation. Perhaps now they will show some respect to the NZers and play better otherwise it will be a kiwi whitewash!

  • king78787 on March 7, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    i dont think all is lost for england BUT they cannot win from this position. Only a decent showing from Cook, compton, trott can see them draw this match. Only the pietersen dismissal was a truly excellent delivery, the rest were poor shot selection.

  • on March 7, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    The lack of a winning combination will show its result in about a couple of days. Swann out means a lot for England. This team enters a rough phase at a wrong time. The Indian triumph may be remembered for long. They have not been performing okay ever since they entered the Kiwi land. Much expected from England who had a recent high(no doubts about it), but have lost the number one title. Nerves may not be at the right place...every time a turn around..ohhh,..this ain't a sequel. May be they all got relaxed with their supremacy and here comes the downfall.

  • Aniltadimeti on March 7, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    But Andrew,they(the English) did have time. If i remember, the third ODI ended on 23rd and the test started on 6th. A gap of 10 days. Surely, they could have had another 3 day game. Or at least a two day game. And this is all the more significant as they are playing 3 back to back tests. And probably they were expecting wickets to be less helpful to bowlers, given the time of the year(As in Mar-Apr, NZ have produced some batting wickets in the past). No denying the fact that they batted poorly. Having said that, this team seems to have great resilience. Maybe it will be a repeat of 2008.

  • chugster on March 7, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    Lets get this straight...Kiwis played brilliantly today and should win this at a canter.But England will bounce back ,its what they do time and time again. For all those who go on about series wins/losses - england have only lost at home to SA other wise unbeaten in 4 years and beyond.Touring drawn in SA,sri lanka,Thrashed Aus,beat india,bangla and NZ.Only blip Pakistan when battered by 2 class spinners and even then we should have won 2-1 but for a lack of bottle and then brains. We are however not as good as some think.....but SA apart nor is any other country.Aus are in a woeful state, i actually feel sorry for them and after years of misery i never thought id say that! Cant wait for the ashes in England when our bowlers dismantle possibly the worst batting line up in Australian cricket history.If clarke gets injured it could be hilarious. Days like this happen in sport,its why it is so compelling,i love it and while im dissapointed ,england will come again.

  • PPD123 on March 7, 2013, 16:11 GMT

    I was reading an article by Atherton yesterday on Sky News, where he has commented on the "easy meat" that NZ would prove to be. There were suggestions in the article of how this test series would be a non starter and Eng would prevail 3-0. Shows that not only Eng players, but even the media also took NZ for grated. Having said this, I believe Eng are still good enough to turn this series (if not this test) around. They have the arsenal and fire power to win in these conditions. They will though need to show much more application and resolve if they are to overcome and win this series. NZ - though poor off late - have always had the habit of punching above their weight. So this performance is not surprising - though I am surprised by the dominance they have exerted on Eng. On a positive note though - Eng cant perform much worse than this, so the only way for them now should be - UP. Lets hope they come out fighting from Day 2 (actually 3) onwards.

  • on March 7, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    First English batsman are poor players of left arm bowlers. Either spin or fast. 2nd they have good players playing at improper positions. 3rd they don't have a regular 3rd fast bowler. Either Anderson Broad has to deliver for every wins. 4th If England play t20, Odi before test match, they are not so dangerous.

  • mensan on March 7, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    We must remember this is a 4-day test match now. I have a feeling that England can draw this.

  • JG2704 on March 7, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 7, 2013, 9:45 GMT) As I said to a couple of posters before. The SL and UAE series would have little/no bearing (in terms of practice) on the Indian series.

    The last SL test and the 1st Indian tests were separated by 8-9 months and by 2 home series so it's not like they went straight from SL to India with conditions fresh in their minds.

    Also if England's tours of SL and UAE helped them in India then how come they lost the 1st test so convincingly?

    I don't buy lack of physical preparation but I think there is a little lack of mental prep coupled with NZ doing a lot of decent preparation , both physically and tactically

  • slasaus on March 7, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    Indeed a bad day at the office which may mean a test defeat. I reckon the fact they are playing a 4 day test match, good captaincy by Mc Cullum, excellent bowling and a few rusty batsmen with a bit of complacency influenced this sorry total. You saw it coming: Wagner's first delivery was a lollypop but Cook left it alone, prob alrady licking his lips what would follow from this club cricketer. Second delivery also short but much faster and closer to the body... really poor shot by the captain. Dont get me wrong Cook is my favourite cricketer but i was really dissapointed by his dismissal. Also KP must have be one of the worst at point (also taking into account u usually got one of ur best fielders over there). The guy who dropped his first 6 catches as an eng test player during the Ashes 2005 has continued dropping too many catches as we speak. Besides, rarely i see KP catching a blinder or stopping a really difficult ball.

  • cric_J on March 7, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    Totally agree that this was not an ideal start to an Ashes year for England.I was never one of those people who believed NZ could be just rolled over but I must admit I wasn't expecting such a strong display from them.Moreover England were highly ordinary today, but just one bad day doesn't make them a bad team.It happens to even the best ones.And it certainly doesn't put Australia in the same league as them for the Ashes.

  • PACERONE on March 7, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    In 2009 W.I beat England then the WICB did it's best to kill W.I cricket.Agreeing to play in terrible conditions as England used W.I as practice for SA.They have not proven to be a good team.If conditions suit them and the opposing team plays poorly they look like world beaters.Australia will find a way to give them a good fight as they have fast bowlers that can get the job done in England.Maybe that is why they want Swann's elbow repaired as Australia are suspect to spin.

  • PACERONE on March 7, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Reporting on games can at times be very deceiving.It all seems to come down to which team the reporter is backing.This article states that England gifted their wickets.I do not see it that way.Cook should of been out before.If the NZ batsmen had gotten out in similar fashion it would of been deceived by slower ball,etc.Too often opposing batsmen play unnecessary shots to get out and the English bowlers get the praise.Bangladesh batsmen gave their wickets away been too aggressive,but the English bowlers got the praise.It is good to see that the NZ batsmen did not get out hooking at balls that should be left alone.

  • Webba84 on March 7, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Increasingly certain that this double ashes season is just going to be won by who can survive the longest, like two increasingly tired boxers unable to land the final blow I expect a record number of injuries and sub standard performances by the final ashes match.

    In happier news, well done NZ, play your hearts out!

  • wrenx on March 7, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    Finally, a bit of realistic assessment of England's performance. I recall Dobell describing England's 2012 as "golden", off the back of a series win at home against West Indies, and 2 tests against India, despite not being able to beat Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka during the same period. Pietersen in particular must be a colossal disappointment for his fans. He spends the majority of his time either not playing, or "out of form". It would be interesting to see what the standard deviation around his batting average is

  • on March 7, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Well done Kiwis. Aussie 2nd innings vs India 131, England 1st innings 131 on an even better pitch. England stillikely to beat us in the ashes unless we improve, but neither side doing so well any more.

  • Mitty2 on March 7, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    I said before the game yesterday that this series should barely set a precedent for england's future performance in the ashe, much like australias performance in India would bare a foretelling of future ashes performances..

    Australia has had a horrible scheduling crash, with the test team and the odi team playing on the very same day, and many of the players only getting one tour game. Many players arrived a week before the first test.. Not to mention that we did not have overseas series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the same year for sub continent practice and preparation like England did.

    The similarity of this NZ series is the poor preparation. One day games are not idle. They have only had one four day game which is just not sufficient.

    But what I find an issue is englands supposed complacency. In 2012, England lost the most amount of test matches than any other nation with seven. This is despite having all batsmen barring Compton averaging above 40 and having a world

  • Mitty2 on March 7, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    I said before the game yesterday that this series should barely set a precedent for england's future performance in the ashe, much like australias performance in India would bare a foretelling of future ashes performances..

    Australia has had a horrible scheduling crash, with the test team and the odi team playing on the very same day, and many of the players only getting one tour game. Many players arrived a week before the first test.. Not to mention that we did not have overseas series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the same year for sub continent practice and preparation like England did.

    The similarity of this NZ series is the poor preparation. One day games are not idle. They have only had one four day game which is just not sufficient.

    But what I find an issue is englands supposed complacency. In 2012, England lost the most amount of test matches than any other nation with seven. This is despite having all batsmen barring Compton averaging above 40 and having a world

  • on March 7, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Well done Kiwis. Aussie 2nd innings vs India 131, England 1st innings 131 on an even better pitch. England stillikely to beat us in the ashes unless we improve, but neither side doing so well any more.

  • wrenx on March 7, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    Finally, a bit of realistic assessment of England's performance. I recall Dobell describing England's 2012 as "golden", off the back of a series win at home against West Indies, and 2 tests against India, despite not being able to beat Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka during the same period. Pietersen in particular must be a colossal disappointment for his fans. He spends the majority of his time either not playing, or "out of form". It would be interesting to see what the standard deviation around his batting average is

  • Webba84 on March 7, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Increasingly certain that this double ashes season is just going to be won by who can survive the longest, like two increasingly tired boxers unable to land the final blow I expect a record number of injuries and sub standard performances by the final ashes match.

    In happier news, well done NZ, play your hearts out!

  • PACERONE on March 7, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Reporting on games can at times be very deceiving.It all seems to come down to which team the reporter is backing.This article states that England gifted their wickets.I do not see it that way.Cook should of been out before.If the NZ batsmen had gotten out in similar fashion it would of been deceived by slower ball,etc.Too often opposing batsmen play unnecessary shots to get out and the English bowlers get the praise.Bangladesh batsmen gave their wickets away been too aggressive,but the English bowlers got the praise.It is good to see that the NZ batsmen did not get out hooking at balls that should be left alone.

  • PACERONE on March 7, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    In 2009 W.I beat England then the WICB did it's best to kill W.I cricket.Agreeing to play in terrible conditions as England used W.I as practice for SA.They have not proven to be a good team.If conditions suit them and the opposing team plays poorly they look like world beaters.Australia will find a way to give them a good fight as they have fast bowlers that can get the job done in England.Maybe that is why they want Swann's elbow repaired as Australia are suspect to spin.

  • cric_J on March 7, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    Totally agree that this was not an ideal start to an Ashes year for England.I was never one of those people who believed NZ could be just rolled over but I must admit I wasn't expecting such a strong display from them.Moreover England were highly ordinary today, but just one bad day doesn't make them a bad team.It happens to even the best ones.And it certainly doesn't put Australia in the same league as them for the Ashes.

  • slasaus on March 7, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    Indeed a bad day at the office which may mean a test defeat. I reckon the fact they are playing a 4 day test match, good captaincy by Mc Cullum, excellent bowling and a few rusty batsmen with a bit of complacency influenced this sorry total. You saw it coming: Wagner's first delivery was a lollypop but Cook left it alone, prob alrady licking his lips what would follow from this club cricketer. Second delivery also short but much faster and closer to the body... really poor shot by the captain. Dont get me wrong Cook is my favourite cricketer but i was really dissapointed by his dismissal. Also KP must have be one of the worst at point (also taking into account u usually got one of ur best fielders over there). The guy who dropped his first 6 catches as an eng test player during the Ashes 2005 has continued dropping too many catches as we speak. Besides, rarely i see KP catching a blinder or stopping a really difficult ball.

  • JG2704 on March 7, 2013, 13:57 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (March 7, 2013, 9:45 GMT) As I said to a couple of posters before. The SL and UAE series would have little/no bearing (in terms of practice) on the Indian series.

    The last SL test and the 1st Indian tests were separated by 8-9 months and by 2 home series so it's not like they went straight from SL to India with conditions fresh in their minds.

    Also if England's tours of SL and UAE helped them in India then how come they lost the 1st test so convincingly?

    I don't buy lack of physical preparation but I think there is a little lack of mental prep coupled with NZ doing a lot of decent preparation , both physically and tactically

  • mensan on March 7, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    We must remember this is a 4-day test match now. I have a feeling that England can draw this.