Mar 7 2013
England had only themselves to blame for their embarrassing false start to the three-Test series against New Zealand.
First, the tourists' batsmen were largely responsible for their own downfall in a descent to 167 all out inside two sessions; then the bowlers, less culpable, were no more successful as Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton replied with 131 for none by stumps at the University Oval.
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 (77no), 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 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.
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.
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.