England perplexed by batting troubles
England are at a loss to work out why they keep putting themselves under pressure with disappointing batting displays at the start of Test tours.
For the fourth successive time, they began an away trip by being bowled out for under 200.
In the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan and in Sri Lanka last winter, then in India before Christmas, they posted scores in the 190s on the way to defeat in the first Test.
In the two most recent examples, England managed to fight back for a drawn series and then a remarkable and historic victory in India.
After being dismissed for 167 inside two sessions at Dunedin's University Oval - and then seeing New Zealand respond with 131 without loss by stumps - once more, they have ensured they must do things the hard way.
Jonathan Trott top-scored on a day when seamer Neil Wagner and debutant slow left-armer Bruce Martin shared eight wickets.
But the number three was also among at least seven batsmen - including four specialists - who contributed to their own dismissal.
Afterwards, he admitted he and his team-mates are none the wiser as to any root cause of their repeat offences.
“We put ourselves under pressure with our performance with the bat,” he said.
“I don't think it's a lack of effort; we made a conscious effort to start the series really well.
“We looked at that and thought 'we've always been on the back foot at the start of the series’ and we tried to correct that today - and we didn't get it right. You can't get away from the fact.”
The Warwickshire batsman could only scratch his head when asked why familiar failings had resurfaced.
“I think the guys have worked really hard in (the tour match defeat in) Queenstown, and here - and it just wasn't our day,” he added.
“We've all felt really good, and you can't fault the guys' commitment in the nets to get ready for a big series like this.
“We (just) didn't bat very well. I’m sure that was pretty obvious.”
Trott is hoping England can battle back, saying: “It was a good wicket, and we have got to fight our way back into this cricket match.
“We've got a big three days ahead of us. We've faced big challenges like this before. This is going to be a good one if we can pull it off.”
In contrast to England, the hosts had no trouble in the middle as debutant opening batsman Hamish Rutherford finished on 77 in an unbroken stand with Peter Fulton.
“It can't get any worse, you can say that,” added Trott.
“But there's no place for feeling sorry for ourselves or thinking we didn't get the rub of the green, because you earn that in cricket.
“You earn the right to put the opposition under pressure, and we didn't do that today.”
New Zealand were impressive and Wagner, South Africa-born but an adoptive son of Otago, was one of those with most reason for satisfaction.
He said: “That was pretty special, playing (a Test) in front of my home crowd and as a New Zealander in New Zealand for the first time.”
Among his wickets was Kevin Pietersen, for the second time in as many innings and this time for a golden duck - to his understandable delight.
“Getting Kevin's wicket was massive in the warm-up game,” added the left-arm seamer. “But getting it in a Test is even better.”