It is a lamentable record and one thrown into even sharper relief by their failure to register any kind of result against Zimbabwe last month.
The final day began with the home side on 56 for 3 and needing another 75 to make England bat again. With that clearly in mind, Atherton did not over-attack, giving his opening bowlers just two slips and a ring of fielders saving one. Cautious tactics, considering that Ladbrokes had made England clear favourites at 4-7 to win this match.
However, it soon became obvious that the pitch was providing little assistance for Darren Gough and Dominic Cork, a testament to its solidity following nearly five days of uninterrupted play. After they had conceded 27 runs in seven overs, the England captain turned to Phil Tufnell to try to break the partnership now burgeoning between Adam Parore and Lee Germon.
The breakthrough came in a completely unexpected and unforced manner when Germon, responding to Parore's unnecessarily risky call for a quick single on the off side, was brilliantly run out by Nasser Hussain's direct hit from cover.
The England vice-captain had been having a quiet match but his alert actions got the morning moving for England as the "Barmy Army" began to clear the previous night's excesses from their throats.
Unlike Graham Thorpe who went on to make amends for the run-out he had been involved in, Parore committed the ultimate cricketing sin by getting out three overs later, the horrendous nature of his stumping reminiscent of John Wright's downfall against England in Christchurch five years ago. It was a dismissal that had opened the floodgates for Tufnell and allowed England to record an improbable victory.
Here it was just the fillip Tufnell needed and coming over the wicket to Justin Vaughan, he trapped the cack-handed Auckland doctor leg before after getting one to turn viciously out of the rough.
However, New Zealand bat such a long way down that even though England had taken six wickets there was no room for complacency. With Gough proving off colour Atherton was forced to turn to Mullally, who had not until now had a particularly distinguished match.
Operating from the Sandringham Road end he made up for earlier failings by getting the valuable wicket of Chris Cairns after the batsman had chopped on to his stumps attempting a front-foot slice to third man.
Cairns is a dangerous player and the joy that greeted his downfall came as welcome reward for Mullally who, on the stroke of lunch, trapped Dipak Patel lbw for nought, the only "pair" of the match.
After lunch England were held up by Nathan Astle and Simon Doull, the latter with a first-class hundred to his name. In fact it was Doull who unleashed two of the day's finest strokes as he twice drove Mullally to the extra cover fence as the tall left-armer overpitched in search of elusive swing.
Once Astle and Doull's partnership had reached 26, England were committed to batting again, a proposition that held less demons for them than it would have done on the first day, when they won the toss and decided to bowl.
That partnership reached 37 when Gough, who had replaced Mullally, bowled Doull with an inswinging yorker that went straight through the batsman's defences to hit off stump.
NEW ZEALAND - Second Innings
(Overnight: 56 for 3)
A C Parore st Stewart b Tufnell 33
L K Germon run out 13
N J Astle not out 43
J T C Vaughan lbw b Tufnell 2
C L Cairns b Mullally 7
D N Patel lbw b Mullally 0
S B Doull b Gough 26
D K Morrison not out 5
Extras (lb8, nb7) 15
Total (for 9, 83.2 overs) 176
Fall: 1-17, 2-28, 3-47, 4-88, 5-90, 6-92, 7-101, 8-105, 9-142.Reuse content