England laboured to a 160-4 on the opening day of the first Test at Lord's against a disciplined New Zealand.

A hectic summer schedule began with a rather stale opening as none of the home batsmen passed 50 as New Zealand maintained an impressive level of control on the proceedings and enjoyed the better of the afternoon after losing the toss.

Ian Bell
Ian Bell hits out on a disappointing opening day for England. (Reuters)

Joe Root ended the day unbeaten on 25 after rain ended the opening day, after Jonathan Trott opened with 39, before Alastair Cook took 32 off 115 balls while Ian Bell struggled to 133 for 31.

23-year-old Trent Boult enjoyed a successful afternoon, claiming 2-29 from 17 overs while Neil Wagner and Bruce Martin also claimed a wicket apiece.

England's opening pair of Cook and Nick Compton reached 43 in 22 without too much distress until the south African born batsman veered off after four consecutive maidens, toe ending Martin to the outstretched Tim Southee.

New Zealand had the opportunity to make a clear breakthrough before lunch when they should have caught out Trott. Only a spill from Martin prevented Trott from joining Compton before he even had a run to his name, as the New Zealander missed a return catch from a loose drive.

Cook, who was captaining England in a home Test for the first time, would not fare much better, caught out by a diving BJ Watling to end an uninspiring 115 ball stay from which he claimed just 32 runs.

A fresh combination of Trott and Bell produced a slightly more impressive showing from the home contingent, adding 45 for the third wicket. But Trott would soon succumb to the impressive Black Caps, when he offered an edge to the impressive Dean Brownlie following another excellent delivery from Boult.

If England had proceeded with caution prior to this stage, Bell's last actions were hardly a change of pace combining with Root for 45 in 25 before going out.

Root would end the day not out, having been briefly been joined by his Yorkshire teammate Jonny Bairstow, before rain signalled the end of the afternoon.