image_20130703124522

Chris Martin announced retirment from all forms of cricket on Tuesday © Getty Images

Chris Martin, New Zealand’s dependable fast bowler since the year 2000, has called it a day from cricket. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at the career of a workhorse-like seamer and one of the game’s most popular bunnies with the bat.

Chris Martin, one of New Zealand’s most reliable medium-pacers since the turn of the century has called it a day from all forms of cricket. In 2000s, New Zealand produced a battery of pace bowlers who had the potential to trouble the best in the business, but frequent injuries marred their progress. Through that, Martin was their go-to man and inspired confidence in Test cricket. Today, he leaves at a time when New Zealand have found promising pacers to take them forward in Test cricket.

Unlike his compatriot Shane Bond, Martin wasn’t a fast bowler, but was someone who could cause problems with his nagging accuracy. He was persistent with his line and length and that was the key to his success. Having made his Test debut against South Africa at Bloemfontein in November 2000, Martin was in and around the side until the tour to Pakistan in 2002. Thereafter, he was left out and only made a comeback in 2004.

The return to Test cricket was spectacular as he picked up 11 wickets against South Africa at Auckland to bowl New Zealand to a comprehensive nine wicket victory. Since then, he has been their asset and one they placed on a high pedestal in Test cricket. Against the Proteas, he had a good time as he finished picking 55 wickets in 14 Tests at an average of 26.72 against them. Four of his 10 fifers came against them. It is the only team against whom he picked 50 or more wickets. Australia was a tough side for him as he averaged in the 60s against them. But, he did have his moment in the sun against them as he played a crucial role in a memorable Kiwi victory at Hobart in 2011.

There was this knack of picking wickets in a heap and the Indian fans would remember a fateful afternoon in Ahmedabad in 2010 when Martin reduced their team to 65 for six on the fourth evening. South Africa bore the brunt of a similar spurt in 2006, when he combined with James Franklin to bundle them for 186 from a point where they were 99 for one. It was that ability that kept him in the side for so long and his workhorse-like character was of great value to the Kiwis.

Shane Bond, Daryl Tuffey and Kyle Mills may have been the wicket-taking bowlers, but they all played less than 30 Tests when compared to Martin’s 71.  In 2011, he was awarded the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal, which is presented to the best New Zealand player of the year. His limited-overs career did not take off as he featured in only 20 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and six T20 Internationals.

Towards the end of his career, Martin wasn’t New Zealand’s number one choice as Tim Southee, Doug Bracewell and Trent Boult emerged to form a youthful attack. Martin was sidelined as a result and played his last Test against South Africa in January this year. Nevertheless, his contribution to New Zealand was invaluable at a time when they struggled to find a stable medium pace bowling option.

However, no article on Martin is complete without his ‘’legendary’’ batting abilities. In 1992, when asked about Narendra Hirwani’s batting, Harsha Bhogle said on commentary, “If you were to make a playing eleven of only No.11 batsmen, then Hirwani would bat No.11 in this team!” Two decades down the line, Martin would give the Indian spinner some strong competition for that spot.

Martin’s batting has been the subject of a lot of jokes. Even when he seemed to plant his foot forward positively, with the bat coming down straight to defend, the ball would invariably sneak through and shatter the stumps. In his 71 Tests, he recorded 36 ducks — which is second only to Courtney Walsh’s 43. But, Walsh bagged them in 132 Tests. A few more games and perhaps Martin may have challenged that record.

For players who have played over 50 Tests, Martin has the lowest batting average, which is 2.36. Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, who is second on the list, is literally “far” ahead at 4.07.

However good Martin may have been with the ball, his comical batting will always be remembered.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)