Third Test, Perth December 8, 2006

My favourite Martyn

No Australian batsman in his time was easier on the eye

Perhaps the most revealing feature of Damien Martyn’s retirement announcement is the admission that he felt unequal to challenge of being ‘more than 100 per cent committed, dedicated, disciplined and passionate about the game’, as among Australians is now de rigueur. The minimum dedication standard was recalibrated last year when Matt Hayden said that he was ‘one billion per cent’ behind Ricky Ponting; the writing may have been on the wall for Marto ever since.

Figures were never uppermost when you watched Martyn bat, playing so late that he almost seemed to be procrastinating, although so easefully that he enjoyed less credit for application and more blame for carelessness than most. Journalists harped on his cheap dismissal under pressure in the Sydney Test against South Africa in January 1994, although what really held him back was that he didn’t break 50 in 21 first-class innings after being busted to Sheffield Shield ranks. He did not return from the wilderness a better player, but he was certainly more conspicuously dedicated, having partaken of that philosophy of Stuart MacGill’s: ‘When in Rome, do as Steve Waugh.’ No Australian batsman in his time was easier on the eye; noone had lovelier trademark stroke than his back foot drive through the covers. But having learned that talent could only take one so far, I suspect he understood better than most the difference between subsisting on ability and genuine body-and-soul conviction.

About fourteen months ago when a sport magazine asked me to name an Australian team for the Ashes series of 2006-7, I included Adam Voges simply for the sake of a new name. I should be modest about my powers of prescience: I expected great things of Simon Katich too. Martyn’s retirement also provides another opportunity for Andrew Symonds, and further opportunity for Michael Hussey, whom it now seems sensible to promote to number four, and for whom billion per cent dedication is merely a preliminary bid.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on December 17, 2006, 2:31 GMT

    Nathan Collins, I'm just so relieved that someone other than me thinks so. Ponting only averaged 44 during the nineties, against attacks featuring Donald, Akram, Waqar Younis, Courtney and Curtley. Now that's a good average, but it's not the average of our best since Bradman.

  • testli5504537 on December 15, 2006, 18:56 GMT

    I'm not sure whether one could say there's a fair amount of daylight to number 3. Ponting does have a remarkable average at the moment and has tapped into a rich vein of form. But, Greg Chappell did average nearly 54 and he batted against superior attacks during his career to those Ponting has generally faced. For instance, there's not an English bowler in this current line-up that would even make their All-Time Second XI. Fact.

  • testli5504537 on December 13, 2006, 1:14 GMT

    A former first-class player on the other side of Martyn:

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 21:21 GMT

    Now that Martyn has been pushed into retirement,the selectors and some armchair pundits will start howling for Langer's blood,and then for Hayden's.

    How many know that Martyn,Hayden and Langer all have better averages than Boon (sickening to watch with a foul mouth to boot) and Mark Waugh.Does anyone remember how Mark Waugh scored 4 consecutive zeroes in Sri Lanka. I believe the year was 1992.

    Selectors are an amazing breed . Reading cricket history I recall that Barrington had to fight for his test place for England but not Cowdrey. Barrington retired due to a heart condition with a test average of 58 plus, the second highest all time for England.

    On the other hand bogus cricketers like Faroukh Engineer were raised to the heavens by dumb selectors. Engineer, having dropped a record number of catches for Mumbai and India ( read Gawaskar) went on to play for a World Eleven;unfortunately no one kept a track of catches he dropped in this exalted capacity.

    How many know that bot

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 20:21 GMT

    One Western Australian for another hey? not wanting to add fuel to your interstate debate! lets hope Voges can in time can take up the mantle left by Damien Martyn, but one thing for sure is he would have a lot to live up to. I've grown up in Yorkshire where people see lancastrians as the old enemy, nevermind Australians; Damien Martyn has been my batting idol since the 2001 ahes tour, however i will always remember him most fondly for his 230 odd in about 2 sessions for yorkshire a few years back, as well as a century he made for WA i saw on holiday in perth from my early childhood! Perhaps it was just that legendary square drive or the uppercut!

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 11:25 GMT

    I was too shock when i heard the saddest news that one of my favourite player martyn retiered. I cannot beieve even today how would aguy like martyn can retire?I think it just a pressure to martyn to retire. Anyway no problem martyn is my icon i will always praise him where could he be.Atlast congratulation to martyn for a great success cricket carrer and we can see him in this field working .

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 7:23 GMT

    Victorian Hero

    Please, there's no need to be petty. Everyone here likes both M. Waugh and Martyn, including me, so that presumably means that we're all the joint stupidest cricket fans around?

    As for your other comments, Martyn and Mark Waugh may have gotten out to a lot of "soft" dismissals; in other words, they went out playing their shots. That doesn't mean they weren't committed. Martyn averaged over 50 before the Ashes, and Waugh played over a hundred CONSECUTIVE tests, and did damned well in them too. Basically your problem with them is that they made it look easy, and didn't care about their averages. If you can't tell the difference between THAT and not caring, then you probably shouldn't be calling anyone an idiot.

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 6:29 GMT

    martyn meh he wasn't as great as you all say

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 4:58 GMT

    how would a guy like martyn just retire, out of the blue? he must have been hinted, he was being left out of the Perth test? and i think it takes a brave man, to retire before being dropped..he has realised that he isnt enjoying it, or finding form, and has taken a big step in retiring! good on opens a spot in the team for the likes of a young Voges who will be a superstar, or opens the spot for the all rounder symonds or watson later down the track..which then would keep the younger Clarke in the team, and make the aussies a better side!!

  • testli5504537 on December 11, 2006, 4:29 GMT

    Im not going to sit here and compare marto to any other player because i think he was in a class of his own. He has always been my favourite cricketer and also sportsman, he will be greatly missed i will never admire another sportsman like i did martyn. Good luck marto and thanks for the great cricket you played and made it look so easy

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