Martin Snedden: The man who donned many hats successfully

Since retiring from the game, Martin Snedden took over as New Zealand Cricket’s chief executive in 2001. He went onto become the president of the Rugby New Zealand 2011 World Cup organising committee © Getty Images

Martin Snedden, born on November 23, 1958 made a name for himself both as a cricketer and administrator. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at the career of a player who has donned many hats in his life and has successfully conquered innumerable challenges with great devotion to the cause.
 
The Auckland-born Martin Snedden was one of those slew of metronomic medium-pacers who came out of New Zealand’s cricket stables in the 1980s. All of them acted as support casts for the all-time great all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee and helped New Zealand to script some famous victories in both Tests and One-Day Internationals respectively.
 
Such was the success of New Zealand’s assembly line of medium-fast bowlers in 1980s, especially in One-Day cricket that even an unheralded medium-pacer like Stuart Gillespie took once a four-for against India.
 
If we turn back the pages, Snedden made his Shell Trophy debut for Auckland against Canterbury in 1978. Incidentally, it was also the final of the tournament during that year. By then, he had already played three First-Class games, but they were mainly against touring sides. It was Snedden’s consistent showing in the 1979-80 First-Class season when he took 23 wickets at 24.08 that elevated him into national reckoning. He finally made his Test debut against India in 1980-81 at Basin Reserve in Wellington. By bowling with utmost diligence and fortitude, he kept the Indian batsmen on a tight leash and played the supporting-act for New Zealand to win the Test match by 62 runs.
 
It was yet again on the slowish tracks of New Zealand that he showcased his nagging accuracy by taking eight wickets in the series against Sri Lanka in 1982-83. Most of his success though came in One-Day Internationals in the annual Benson & Hedges Tri-series played in Australia in 1980-81 and 1982-83 respectively. In particular, in 1980-81 season, with 17 wickets to his name at 21.94, he caught the eye of cricket pundits. Even in 1987-88 he performed creditably in the tri-series by taking 14 wickets at 25.85.
 
A few years further down the line in 1988 against England in a 4-match ODI series played in New Zealand, Snedden from being merely a supporting-cast went onto star in New Zealand’s comprehensive six wicket win with a heart-stirring spell of four for 34 at Napier. Even then, New Zealand’s opening batsman John Wright won the man of the match award for his sterling century.
 
Snedden was already well-known for his nagging accuracy on slower tracks of New Zealand. However, he surprised one-and-all by taking four for 69 in a Test match in Indian conditions at Hyderabad in 1988. Sadly, New Zealand lost the Test match to India by 10 wickets.
 
Even though, Snedden was bowling reasonably well in the abridged version of the game by the dawn of 1990s, he retired from ODI cricket after playing the semi-final against Pakistan in the Austral-Asia Cup in 1990 in Sharjah — a match in which New Zealand was thumped by a very strong Pakistani set-up. He played his last Test match in 1990 as well, during the tour of England at Edgbaston.

Martin Snedden: The man who donned many hats successfully

Martin Snedden shows his batting skills in a match between a MP’s XI and a New Zealand Community Trust XI while he was serving as CEO of New Zealand Cricket © Getty Images

His Test record of 58 wickets at 37.91 in 25 Tests may not have an impressive ring attached to it. However, 114 wickets in 93 ODIs at 28.39 is a record he can be proud of. More importantly, his miserly economy-rate of 4.29 gives an inkling that on especially slower wickets of New Zealand, he was a parsimonious seamer. Remember, he was also a handy lower-order batsman.
 
In short, Snedden wasn’t bestowed with a generous portion of God-gifted talent. But with a single-minded-focus towards cricket, he made a name for himself in the world of cricket.
 
One fact though, he won’t be exactly proud of would be him being smashed to smithereens at Oval in 1983 against England. In that game, he ended up with figures of 105 runs in his quota of 12 overs and took 2 wickets. Until Mick Lewis broke the record after being smeared around the park for 113 runs in 10 overs in the fondly remembered ODI played between South Africa and Australia at Wanderers in 2006, Snedden held the infamous record for the worst bowling analysis in ODI cricket.
 
Since retiring from the game, Snedden took over as New Zealand Cricket’s chief executive in 2001. Even though, he had his detractors, he proved to be a largely popular administrator.
 
After a successful stint as CEO, Snedden stepped down from the post in 2007 citing too much of overdose of cricket. He told Stuff.co.NZ, “I’d had a lifetime in cricket, as a player, a board member, representing some players as a lawyer, and as the CEO. I didn’t realise it, but by the time I left, I was ODing [over-dosing] on cricket. I’m quite removed from the game now. I read a lot on Cricinfo, and follow the scores, but don’t go along very often. I watched a lot of the Ashes series, but can’t really bring myself to watch Twenty20, though I was partly responsible for it being introduced.”
 
He went onto become the president of the Rugby New Zealand 2011 World Cup organising committee too and won fulsome praise for his organising skills. Snedden though, credited his success to his wife Annie for the strong moral and emotional support she gave during that time.
 
After the Rugby World Cup in 2011 held in New Zealand, he was also appointed as CEO of the Tourism Industry Association. From a cricket’s perspective, it is a boon that he has returned back to the cricketing fold after being elected as one New Zealand Cricket board’s directors in September 2013.
 
From being a parsimonious seamer to a fine administrator, he has done it all. It has to be also remembered that he is a qualified lawyer too. One can only salute Snedden who with energetic industrious stamina and resilient self-belief has successfully conquered innumerable challenges and donned many hats in his life. He can be called as a symbol of relentless pursuit for unmatched excellence.
 
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)