Dunedin: England great Ian Botham described the team's first innings performance in the opening Test against New Zealand as possibly the worst he had seen on Friday.
England were skittled for 167 in two sessions on a tame pitch Thursday to put New Zealand in control of the match as they cruised to 131 without loss at stumps, looking to build a bid lead on the third day Friday.
Botham was full of praise for Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum's tactical nous but at a loss to explain England's dismal performance against the eighth-ranked Test team in the world.
"(It's) one of the worst, if not the worst," said Botham, who is commentating on the Test for Sky television. "How do you explain it? I thought New Zealand did well and the captain was exceptional but you can't get bowled out for 167 on this surface.
"You've got a spinner making his debut (Bruce Martin) and he picks up four without turning a ball, very strange, very, very strange."
New Zealand were looking comfortable at 157 without loss early Friday, with Peter Fulton bringing up his half century off 153 balls, including seven fours, and Hamish Rutherford unbeaten on 94, closing in on a century on debut.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also lashed the England performance, calling the batsmen "sloppy", while Geoffrey Boycott said they appeared poorly prepared and in holiday mode.