It was a heartening performance after the final-day failings of the drawn first Test, but one that owed more than a soupcon to the home side's generosity, which started with the decision of the New Zealand captain, Lee Germon, to bat after winning the toss.
With play only possible for the last two hours of the day after torrential overnight rain had delayed the start, New Zealand's batsmen suddenly found themselves on a pitch that had spent most of the morning sweating under covers - a factor that brought anything but the cool response required.
Andy Caddick took the new ball in place of Alan Mullally - a bowler more stock than strike - and forced the opposition to panic. After an understandably apprehensive start, the rangy Somerset bowler rarely looked anything other than menacing. By the close, he had troubled everyone with a heady combination of swing and bounce that brought him three of the six wickets to fall.
It was a combination that none of the Kiwi top order had either the technique or the bloodiness of mind to combat. On occasions like this, New Zealand look comfortably the weakest team in Test cricket - something of an irony considering that Caddick is from Christchurch, an affiliation he has taken a step further by modelling his action on that of Sir Richard Hadlee.
Off the field, Caddick can be an exasperating fellow. Even so, his abilities as a bowler ought never to have been in doubt and, having been picked for the winter tour, he should have played in every Test.
That this is his first suggests that he has not only been misread by the England management - who give the impression that they see him as something of a misfit and unwilling to put in the hard graft when the going gets tough - but that he has been mistreated too. And if Chris Silverwood had been fit it is a moot point whether Caddick would have been donning his headphones or his bowling boots for this Test.
Perhaps Caddick does lack Silverwood's unquestioning willingness, or Darren Gough's exuberance. None the less he is a fine bowler capable of removing, rather than gently persuading, the best batsmen from the crease. Making him feel unwanted will have preyed on his fragile confidence and it leaves another black mark against the man-management skills of those in charge.
Fortunately for England, Caddick performed well in the previous match against the Kiwi second string at Wanganui, a feat he himself recognised, in spite of inferior figures, and one he has happily taken with him into this match.
By contrast, Dominic Cork, one of those rested in the last game, was far from his best with the new ball, and his early outswingers looked gentle and predictable in comparison to Caddick's. By choosing to bowl with the wind, Cork also chose the end that had taken longer to dry after floodwater had covered the outfield to within a metre of the pitch.
In truth, the run-ups were probably still a little squelchy and less than ideal, a point Cork made and remade with a song and dance routine that would have put Gene Kelly to shame. After four overs of ranting, Atherton had had enough and quickly replaced him with Gough, who got on with it like the trooper he clearly is.
Happily for Atherton, success for Gough was swift and in the over after Caddick had forced Blair Pocock to steer a shortish ball to gully, Gough homed a bouncer in on Bryan Young. The batsman gloved it to Alec Stewart, who, having anticipated the ball's direction, was already moving down the leg side.
Striving for pace, Gough was mostly wayward on a pitch that demanded accuracy. For once it did not seem to matter a jot and for every gem he did produce, such as the leg-cutter that got rid of Adam Parore, and the outswinger Chris Cairns steered to third slip, a wicket seemed to be attached.
Nevertheless, in what was for once a gratifyingly professional performance by England, it was Caddick who was comfortably the pick of the bowlers, catching the dangerous Stephen Fleming off his own bowling and removing Germon with a beauty just before the close of play.
n England are to play in a four-nation one-day tournament in Sharjah in December as part of their preparation for the five-Test tour of the West Indies in early 1998. The West Indies, Pakistan and India will also take part.
First day Wellington scoreboard
First day; New Zealand won toss
NEW ZEALAND - First Innings
B A Young c Stewart b Gough 8
40 min, 29 balls
B A Pocock c Cork b Caddick 6
34 min, 22 balls
A C Parore c Stewart b Gough 4
14 min, 5 balls, 1 four
S P Fleming c and b Caddick 1
25 min, 19 balls
N J Astle not out 15
83 min, 63 balls
C L Cairns c Hussain b Gough 3
5 min, 6 balls
*L K Germon c Stewart b Caddick 10
45 min, 27 balls
D N Patel not out 5
14 min, 11 balls
Extras (lb2 nb2) 4
Total (for 6, 135 min, 30 overs) 56
To bat: S B Doull, G I Allott, D L Vettori.
Fall: 1-14 (Pocock), 2-18 (Young), 3-19 (Parore), 4-19 (Fleming), 5-23 (Cairns), 6-48 (Germon).
Bowling (to date): Cork 11-3-23-0 (nb1); Caddick 11-5-19-3; Gough 8-3- 12-3 (nb1).
Progress: Rain delayed start until 4.28pm. 50: 125 min, 27.1 overs.
ENGLAND: N V Knight, *M A Atherton, A J Stewart, N Hussain, G P Thorpe, J P Crawley, R D B Croft, D G Cork, D Gough, A R Caddick, P C R Tufnell.
Umpires: S A Bucknor and D B Cowie.
TV Replay Umpire: E A Watkin.
Match Referee: P J P Burge.Reuse content