England narrowly managed to pass their lowest Test score in Auckland, where they were bowled out for 58 inside the first session. Here we look back on some of the worst England batting performances of recent memory.
46 all out v West Indies, Trinidad, 1994 (lost by 147 runs)
A genre-defining horror hammering, and quite possibly the most traumatic moment for England fandom in the whole of a miserable decade. As John Cleese so timelessly put it in Clockwise, it wasn't the despair that destroyed him, it was the hope. The hope, in this instance, that England - 2-0 down in the five-Test series, but at last finding their groove - were about to claw their way back into contention, as they set about pursuing a tantalising 194 for victory. But then came Curtly Ambrose, and the rest was the Psycho shower scene. Mike Atherton, pinned lbw first ball of the chase. Mark Ramprakash, fecklessly run out in the same over. Graham Thorpe, torpedoed in the final over of a pulsating day, and trooping from the field with eyes that bore witness to horrors that no man should have to live through. You think this lot have had it tough? You haven't seen a thing ...
51 all out v West Indies, Jamaica, 2009 (lost by an innings and 23 runs)
The most important debacle in England's recent history? Quite possibly. This was the Ground Zero moment for a patched-up management team of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, who had been thrown together as captain and coach after the disastrous fall-out between Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores, and suddenly had an excuse to tell their players it was their way or the highway. Jerome Taylor bowled like a dervish - a right-handed Trent Boult, finding searing late swing from a full and skiddy length - but England batted like klutzes, not least Ian Bell, who was made the scapegoat as England crumbled to a shocking innings defeat, and sent off to toughen up in beach-front boxing lessons with the team's security manager. The series would not be salvaged, but with Strauss leading from the front, the Ashes were regained later that year, and all was forgiven.
58 all out v New Zealand, Auckland, 2018 (result TBD)
It's too soon to over-analyse this latest miserable performance, except to confirm that it was an accident waiting to happen. England came into the New Zealand Test series having been routed 4-0 in the Ashes, and with a grand total of nine overseas defeats in their last 11 Tests. They arrived with a team that had managed not to answer any of the pressing questions that had dogged them for nigh on three years - namely, where is their next serviceable opening partnership coming from, who fills the vacancies in the middle order, is Moeen Ali really the best spinner in the land, and where are the men who will one day have to fill the shoes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. They came up against a familiar and seasoned pair of foes in Tim Southee and Trent Boult, and encountered - in Boult's performance in particular - a truly outstanding spell of Test-class swing bowling. But where was the discipline to dig in when the bowlers were on top? Five ducks in the innings, and four of the top eight bowled, pointed to technical shortcomings that, had it not been for the grit of Craig Overton at 27 for 9, would surely have resulted in the lowest Test total in England's history.
72 all out v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 2012 (lost by 72 runs)
As all adherents to Greek mythology will know, nemesis follows hubris as night follows day. And so when England trotted out to the UAE at the start of 2012, armed with the No. 1 Test ranking and a batting line-up that had beaten Australia in Australia and whitewashed India at home, they were quietly confident of cementing their hegemony. Flower, to his eternal chagrin, even allowed his players to take a winter break - rightly assuming that they would benefit from a hop off the treadmill. Big mistake. They arrived back on Test duty with minds and feet no longer aligned, and faced with Saeed Ajmal and his illegible doosra, they were caught on the crease and mown down en masse. England's bowlers played their part - Anderson and Broad admirable as ever, and Monty Panesar's second-innings six-for setting an apparently trivial 144 to level the series. In the final analysis, they were lucky to make it even halfway to that target.
77 all out v Australia, Lord's, 1997 (match drawn)
The one that got away but not for very long. Like the ugly scratch of a needle across a previously mellifluous rendition of the "Blue Danube", England's serene start to the Ashes summer of 1997 came to a cold and shuddering halt as Glenn McGrath found his own groove on the infamous Lord's slope. For the record, England came into the second Test having beaten Australia 3-0 in a remarkably upbeat Texaco Trophy series, before crushing them, stunningly, in the first Test at Edgbaston. But McGrath, who had struggled for length at the start of the tour, corrected his errors to devastating effect. In the space of 20.3 metronomic overs (almost exactly as long as England last in Auckland), he helped himself to 8 for 38 - five catches in the cordon and three more stump-to-stump - as the vagaries of the old ground played emphatically to his minimalist strengths. Rain ensured that England took their lead into the third Test, but their bubble of Britpop serenity had been burst. And the summer never looked quite so rosy again.