England’s new era under captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum got off to a chaotic start as 17 wickets fell on the first day of the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s.
New Zealand were bowled out for 132, only for England to slump to 116-7 in reply.
For as brilliant as England were with the ball and in the field, they were as poor with the bat as they have been in a run that has seen them win only one of their past 17 Tests.
Though New Zealand won the toss, the conditions offered movement to the home side that debutant Matthew Potts and the recalled James Anderson exploited with four wickets apiece.
However, Colin de Grandhomme’s 42 not out dragged the Black Caps from 45-7, with the last three wickets adding 87 runs.
Still, England were in strong positions at 59-0 and 92-2, only to lose five wickets for eight runs in a blur of inexplicable strokes.
All this on a day when Jack Leach had to be withdrawn from the match with concussion after landing awkwardly whilst trying to save a boundary in only the sixth over.
Leach has been replaced by Lancashire leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, who started the day in Manchester and ended it on the verge of batting in his Test debut.
Action-packed start to new era
If the expectation was that the new management would bring an all-action style to the England team, it was fulfilled on a barely believable day at Lord’s, when the two sides competed to see who could put in the worst batting performance.
As everything went England’s way in the morning, new skipper Stokes had few decisions to make. It may be that his most important act was to lose the toss, but there were some glimpses of an attacking intent with as many as six catchers posted in the slips.
England utilised the conditions with a full length and caught everything – Jonny Bairstow held on to three at third slip, including two stunners.
Among the carnage, Leach was hurt and the game stopped after 23 overs for applause in tribute to late Australia legend Shane Warne.
For as much as England looked reinvigorated with the ball and in the field, their batting was depressingly feeble, the rash shots all too familiar.
The late clatter of wickets were enough to drag New Zealand back into a contest that they could already have been out of.
England collapse leaves Test in balance
Perhaps the biggest crime of England’s collapse was that New Zealand looked flattened, offering little threat, until they were given a way back into the match.
It started when Zak Crawley fell in characteristic fashion, edging a booming drive off Kyle Jamieson after playing nicely for 43.
Though new number three Ollie Pope was drawn into a poke at Jamieson for only seven, all seemed calm while former captain Joe Root, who was given a rapturous reception, was at the crease.
But when Root pushed Tim Southee to gully for 11, England lost the plot.
Left-hander Alex Lees was lbw getting too far across his stumps and Stokes edged an ambitious drive, before Boult had Bairstow play on and bounced out Potts.
England had lost five wickets in the space of 28 balls, and needed Ben Foakes and Stuart Broad to drag them to close without sustaining further damage.
Anderson and Potts combine to skittle Kiwis
For a while, New Zealand looked a shadow of the side that won a series here 1-0 last year on the way to being crowned world Test champions – their tentative batters were preyed on by the artistry of Anderson and the energy of Potts.
Anderson needed only seven balls to take Will Young’s edge, with Bairstow taking a stunning grab low to his left. When Tom Latham nicked in the same direction, Bairstow’s reaction to hold a catch he initially dropped was just as impressive.
Bairstow’s third came when Broad drew Devon Conway into playing away from his body, before Potts got in on the act.
He took the edge of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson with his fifth ball, got Daryl Mitchell to play on and bowled Tom Blundell when he offered no shot.
With De Grandhomme marshalling the tail, Anderson took some punishment but still had both Jamieson and Tim Southee caught on the boundary.
Potts trapped Ajaz Patel lbw for his fourth but had to leave the field with cramp, allowing Stokes to dismiss last man Boult.
England were in control, only for the evening carnage to turn the match on its head.
A ‘baffling’ yet ‘familiar’ collapse – reaction
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: “It was decent bowling, very good bowling at times, but the batting has been poor for both sides.
“Are we surprised at England? Absolutely not. Brendon McCullum has seen there is a lot of work to go into this batting unit.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “England’s collapse is baffling and still in some ways rather familiar.”