Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hobart, 2nd day December 10, 2011

A day for the bowlers - Martin


Chris Martin turned 37 on the day two at Bellerive Oval. His birthday present was a second consecutive strong bowling effort against Australia. This time, his team-mates were just as good. And if they back it up in the second innings, victory over Australia will be theirs for the first time in a generation.

To skittle Australia for 136 is the kind of performance Martin has dreamt of for a decade. Before this series, he had played ten Tests against Australia and had taken 15 wickets at 86.53. It was hard to say if he was more embarrassed about his bowling record against them or his batting figures.

That started to change in Brisbane, where he took four wickets, and in Hobart he collected three, as did Doug Bracewell and the debutant Trent Boult, while Tim Southee picked up perhaps the most important victim, Ricky Ponting. At no point did they let the pressure drop significantly and as a result, Australia recorded their lowest total at home against New Zealand.

The ball seamed and swung, and Australia's batsmen struggled to handle the movement. After New Zealand were rolled for 150 in their first innings, there appeared every chance the match could be over in three days. The weather might not allow that, but all the same Martin said it had been a long while since he had seen a Test surface with so much in it for the bowlers.

"In a Test match it has been a long time," he said. "If you look around the world there's not too much variety in pitches. A day's Test cricket like that definitely makes people watch. It's difficult. I've toured places like India and the subcontinent and it's always a tough, long day with plenty of runs. But if you're a connoisseur of swing bowling, seam bowling, then today is a really enjoyable day's cricket."

By closing the second day with a lead of 153 and seven wickets in hand, New Zealand have given themselves their best chance in ten years of beating the Australians. And although the pitch is expected to become less difficult for the batsmen over the next two days, their advantage over Australia was already alarmingly large.

"It's a tough ask for any top-order batsmen out there today to feel comfortable, to feel in," Martin said. "It's one for the bowlers today. I suppose 150 on that pitch on the first day has turned out to be a reasonable score. It's quite a tough picture to paint with the rest of the Test, with how it's going to go. I know that sitting here at 150 runs in front we're feeling good. I don't know how many runs are needed. We'll just see how we go tomorrow."

Martin believes Phillip Hughes will be under serious pressure when it comes time for Australia to begin their chase. Hughes will walk to the crease in the second innings playing for his Test future. Three times from three innings in this series he has been caught by Martin Guptill, either at gully or slip, off the bowling of Martin, the angle across him proving hard to handle. His best score in the series has been 10.

"I feel like I've put the ball in a good spot to him," Martin said. "He's feeling for it a little bit and he's nicked a couple. I suppose for a guy who's struggling, this isn't the sort of pitch that you want to feel for your next knock and where your runs are coming from. He's under pressure, I suppose. We just have to keep bowling in the right spots.

"I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. He'll be feeling under pressure and that's never a good place. I've felt under pressure for my spot in the past, so it's always a difficult challenge and one if you get on top of you're a lot stronger for it."

First though, Australia need to find a way through the rest of the New Zealand order. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson were both well set at stumps, having judiciously left the ball and played wisely. At times, the Australian fast bowlers strayed startlingly down leg or with bouncers that easily sailed over the batsmen's heads, and Peter Siddle said it was important to stick to what worked in the first innings.

"It's always nice to get a wicket that is a little bit bowler-friendly, but it's not always that easy [because of that]," Siddle said. "There's still a lot of work has to be done by us bowlers, we do have to bowl some good lines, good areas and be patient. Sometimes on these wickets you can tend to go searching a little bit and try too hard and end up with figures that you're not very proud of.

"When the sun does come out and you get a bit of heat on that wicket, to dry it out a little bit, it does quicken up a little bit and does seem a little bit easier to score. Hopefully tomorrow morning the clouds are out and it's a little bit overcast for us in the first session."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on December 11, 2011, 2:53 GMT

    I really want to thank all the English and Indians for commenting on our articles, you are really revealing how worried you are about this brilliant attack. And to make matters worse for you we are still missing Cummins! Haha!

  • Mick on December 11, 2011, 2:08 GMT

    The only thing dodgy about this match is the state of modern batting. as mentioned by others this would be a 250-350 pitch against a decent line up from even 20yrs ago. A bad pitch is one that just boosts averages of average players. One with turn/seam within reason is what Test cricket should be all about.

  • Dummy4 on December 10, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    Have to give credit to a guy like Chris Martin. He won't go down in history with exceptional stats, he gets bagged for his batting and only plays tests in a side that are consistent strugglers. But still, at 37 he is in yet another NZ team full of unestablished players, bowling with determination and commitment. Great stuff!!

  • adil on December 10, 2011, 16:51 GMT

    good to see nz on top after day 2,but the australians will not give it away,their fast bowlers hav dominated in the previous 3 innings.if nz wants to win this test they need their batsmen to score 140 more runs and rearch the target in excess of 280 da best nz.

  • Dennis on December 10, 2011, 16:20 GMT

    Gota thank the ground staff for preparing a pitch like this for NZ . NZ seamers grow up on pitches like this ,they know how to bowl on these wickets , but we still need another 150/200runs .Can,t understand Ponting why does he continue to sledge players when there out ( Ryder) , its not like hes backing his mouth up with his bat lately ,

  • Srinivas on December 10, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    Martin, first of all, belated birthday greetings to you. Next, admit that this was a dodgy, underprepared, dangerous grazing field and not a cricket pitch.

  • thames400375 on December 10, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    finally today Kiwis walk the talk

  • Shiladitya on December 10, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Very nice work by the Kiwis. As Martin said, it's one thing to have a pitch which benefits the bowlers, but quite another to bowl accordingly and exploit it to the max. I wish more such bowler-oriented pitches would show up worldwide. I'm tired of seeing batsmen score big runs on flat pitches. Whether they be greentops with seam and bounce or a dustbowl taking spin from day one, I'd rather see a pitch where the batsmen have to work hard to survive and score, esp. since those tend to be the result-oriented pitches.

  • Ross on December 10, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    For Test cricket to thrive it needs to be played across the full spectrum of wicket conditions. Not Trent Bridge green-tops of the 80s, or the ball turning square on Day One, but a genuine Test quality batsman should have the technique to be able to play on testing surfaces. I bet Dravid would have been difficult to shift today, as would Boycott and other technicians of yesteryear. Perhaps this surface is at one extreme end of the spectrum, but with due respect these are only good, not great bowlers, and the low scores reflect the lack of technique inherent in so many contemporary batsman. T20 hasn't helped for sure, Sir Viv once remarked that he would get as much satisfaction from a good leave as a good shot, but the art of leaving the ball has no place in Big Bashes. If this game was taking place in the 70s or 80s, with the conditions and attacks on offer, it would be a 275-325 wicket, but when batsmen are used to just standing there and hitting through the line calamity ensues.

  • david on December 10, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    they are both out scouting for players. mind if aus do win they will be back they always do after a win. dpk

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