Trent Boult of New Zealand (2nd R) celebrates a wicket during the first day of the day-night Test cricket match between New Zealand and England at Eden Park in Auckland on March 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fiona Goodall (Photo credit should read FIONA GOODALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The collapse. One of the great spectacles of world cricket and something which something which England have been rather proficient in throughout the years. So following England’s dramatic collapse on the first day of the Day-Night test in Auckland, I am going to take a look through the archives at some of the great collapses in Test history in an attempt to establish where this stands within the pantheon of great cricketing catastrophes.

As the wickets tumbled on a tranquil afternoon in Auckland the minds of commentators, fans and players alike began to reminisce over some of the lowest scores in cricketing history. Statisticians across the globe became giddy with excitement as Trent Boult took swung New Zealand into a position where they had England 23-8 and staring down the barrel of the lowest ever test score. Which coincidentally, was made on the same ground in 1955 when Brian Statham and Frank ‘Typhoon’ Tyson helped England dismiss New Zealand for 26.

It is a fairly old adage that English Test sides of the past and present have been world leaders in the art of the collapse. The record books, however, somewhat contradict this idea. Of the lowest 20 test totals, England have only 2, compared to the 13 which they have inflicted on other sides. That begs the question, who scored the other 18?

A South African Struggle

Excluding the 26 scored by New Zealand, the 4 lowest test scores all came in the same fixture – England vs South Africa. Scores of 30, 30, 35 and 36 in Test matches between 1896 and 1932 along with 3 other scores of 50 or less mean they are responsible for seven of the lowest 20. This is more than any other side.
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Interestingly, all 7 of South Africa’s low totals came during or before 1932, showing the strides South African cricket has made throughout the last 75 years. Sticking to that trend, the lowest totals were scored almost exclusively in the late 19th and early 20th century, during periods of uncovered wickets, thinner bats and no helmets.

As a result, England’s 58 early on Thursday morning seems even more staggering.

21st Century Collapses

The lowest test score in the 21st century once again belongs to New Zealand, their 45 all out at the hands of Vernon Philander and co. narrowly surpassing totals of 47, 47 and 49 by the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia respectively. The collapse that most probably springs to mind, especially for fans of English (and Australian) cricket is probably the Australians rather dramatic 60 all out in 2015. With the ashes poised at 2-1 in the home sides favor Stuart Broads 8-15 on the morning of the Trent Bridge test match all but sealed England’s series victory.

Following the efforts of Trent Boult and Tim Southee during the early hours of the 22nd of March the England side of 2018 have slid themselves in at number nine when it comes to the worst batting performances of the 21st century. Higher in the list than the Australian effort of 2015. The question stands though, in 50 years’ time will people be talking about the 58 all out in Auckland or the 60 all out at Trent Bridge.

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