England capitulate in Dunedin


England were dismissed for a paltry 167 before an unbeaten first-wicket alliance carried New Zealand to 131 without loss – and a mere deficit of 36 – on day two of the first Test at the University Oval in Dunedin on Thursday.

England were dismissed for a paltry 167 before an unbeaten first-wicket alliance carried New Zealand to 131 without loss – and a mere deficit of 36 – on day two of the first Test at the University Oval in Dunedin on Thursday.

England had only themselves to blame for an embarrassing false start to the three-match series. First, the tourists' batsmen were largely responsible for their own downfall in a lame descent inside two sessions. Then the bowlers, less culpable, were no more successful as Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton replied in resounding fashion.

A string of regrettable shots contributed prominently in a faulty England innings which featured four wickets each for Neil Wagner and debutant Bruce Martin.
Only Jonathan Trott, among the frontline batsmen, and then tailenders James Anderson and Steven Finn delayed New Zealand for long.

The contrast was yawning when the hosts took their turn to bat, earlier than they could have dreamed on a mostly unresponsive surface. Debutant Rutherford (77 not out), following his father Ken into Test cricket for his country, was the dominant force on a day when nothing worthwhile went right for England.

After ducks for Kevin Pietersen and Nick Compton, and little of substance from anyone else apart from Trott, England were already in trouble on a lunchtime 81 for five. If they dared to hope Trott or Matt Prior might bail them out, they were soon very disappointed as both fell compliantly in the early afternoon.

Pietersen went first ball, for the fifth time in his Test career, and the hint of a morning recovery from 18 for three in a stand of 46 between Trott and Ian Bell was as good as it ever got for England at the start of a series many expected them to dominate.
Those predictions were in need of scrutiny from the moment Wagner (four for 42) saw off first Alastair Cook and then Pietersen with only his second and third deliveries on his home debut.

England, put in by Brendon McCullum before bad weather prevented any play yesterday, were already minus Compton in the third over of a sunny morning.
He paid for a hesitant push forward at Tim Southee, making contact with only the bottom of his defensive bat and unable to stop the ball rushing through to disturb off-stump.

It was perhaps a slightly unfortunate but still worrying mode of dismissal for the man who, it is hoped, will open alongside Cook in back-to-back Ashes series this year.
Cook had a let-off, dropped by Martin when he clipped Trent Boult to midwicket, but he could add only a single before cutting Wagner tamely to point. Pietersen never got bat on ball at all, undone lbw by a good inswinger from left-armer Wagner.

Trott appeared in control at a ground he knows well from his time with Otago seven years ago – but after an encouraging partnership, Bell was to hand the initiative right back to the opposition by poking a catch to cover off Wagner. Joe Root fenced high to second slip off Boult, and after lunch Prior cut slow left-armer Martin (four for 42) straight to point.

England had already donated most of their wickets, before the previously exonerated Trott mistimed a sweep to short fine-leg. Stuart Broad then produced the dopiest shot of all when he followed a slog-sweep for four by pulling a Martin long-hop into the hands of deep square-leg immediately after McCullum had put the man there.

Anderson and Finn shared the highest stand of the innings, for the ninth wicket, but still had a meagre total to bowl at – one which was soon put into cruel context by Rutherford and Fulton's century opening stand. Rutherford already had a 65-ball half-century under his belt when he crashed one back at Broad, who could not hang on diving to his left.

If that was a half-chance, the percentages were much more in Pietersen's favour soon afterwards yet he spilled Rutherford again on 64 at point off Broad. The left-hander had greeted the introduction of Monty Panesar with a six over long-on in the spinner's first over, to go with eight fours in his 50.

Fulton was more studied, but gave no encouragement to England – for whom there were many distressing statistics to attend a miserable first day of Test action in this high-profile year. They have, for example, been bowled out for under 200 in each initial innings of their last four overseas Test tours.

For New Zealand, there was only a bright side – including the fact that, without the injury-enforced absences of first-choice seamer Doug Bracewell and regular opener Martin Guptill, neither Wagner nor Rutherford would have got their chance here.