England’s cricketers capped off a miserable 18 hours for national team sports after they were downed by 21 runs in Wellington.
On a ground that brings back painful World Cup 2015 memories, New Zealand were once again too hot for a lacklustre England to handle.
Their bowling was middling, their fielding was awful and their batting was about as effective as the first 20 minutes of the rugby World Cup final the night before.
It took a welcome cameo of 36 from Chris Jordan to keep England in with a shot of overhauling the Kiwi total of 176, but with wickets continuing to fall the series was levelled up at 1-1 with three left to play
As good as England and in particular James Vince was on Friday in the first game, they and he were poor here.
The Hampshire man dropped three catches of varying difficulty, two of which were simple, while Dawid Malan and Sam Billings both put down one apiece.
And then with the bat Vince arrived out in the middle with two right gloves before realising that he needed to go back and swap one over. Dozy is the only word.
Jonny Bairstow had already departed first ball of the innings when he chipped Tim Southee to mid on which was to start a trend with nine of the ten wickets falling to catches and Colin de Grandhomme taking four of them.
What should frustrate England more than anything was the way in which the batsmen kept trying to hit the ball long and straight, seemingly not appreciating that it takes 20 more metres to clear the ropes that way and the key to hitting sixes at the ‘Cake Tin’ is by going square.
That is what Malan did when he deposited Jimmy Neesham on the roof with the biggest hit of the lot in his 39.
The Kiwi spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi took full advantage of the dimensions to claim five wickets between them as batsman after batsman succumbed to temptation.
Jordan revived England’s hopes with his knock that included three successive sixes off Sodhi, this coming after he was the pick of the bowlers with 3-23.
Saqib Mahmood, presented with his cap by former England player and coach David Lloyd, made his international debut but found life tough to take 1-46 as too did Pat Brown with 0-32 from just two overs.
Lewis Gregory though found things a little easier as he became the ninth England player to take a wicket with his first ball, just like the man he replaced in the side Joe Denly, who did so back in 2009.