South Africa in New Zealand 2011-12 March 4, 2012

Martin looks ahead to fast-bowling duel

26

Chris Martin is ready to go head to head with Dale Steyn in what he has dubbed "the battle of the swing bowlers," in the upcoming Test series between New Zealand and South Africa. Martin warned batsmen on both sides that they will be caught in the crosshairs of a furious fight between the quicks operating in favourable conditions.

With an unusually wet, windy and cold summer it seems the weather gods have done half the job and Martin said New Zealand's attack should be able to do the other half. Two of the three Tests being played at what Martin calls "swinging conditions," in Dunedin and Wellington, places where he expects New Zealand's attack to thrive. "The success of all our bowlers will probably improve in swinging conditions," he said.

Even though South Africa have the world's top-ranked Test bowler in their arsenal, Martin believes that New Zealand have the strength to match that and the other elements of the hosts' varied attack. "If you've got a left-armer [Trent Boult] and you've got a couple of guys who swing the ball away and myself who brings it back in, I think the balance is there to test techniques," he said. "When you put Daniel [Vettori] into the mix as well it covers a lot of the bases South Africa also cover."

It could all add up to a toxic combination for batsmen, who will have to brush up on their cautiousness more than their cover drives, according to Martin. "It should be a challenging series for batsmen if we get the wickets right," he said. "If there's any moisture in the air, the pitch will always have something in it."

New Zealand have expressed interest in creating increasingly seamer-friendlhy pitches as they look to turn their four-pronged attack into a permanent feature. Almost everyone in the South African camp, from bowling coach Allan Donald to Steyn to limited-overs captain AB de Villiers, have welcomed the move, saying it would work in their favour as well.

South Africa are fresh off preparing green mambas of their own over the summer as they beat Sri Lanka. Although their batsmen also find the going tough on spicy surfaces, it's a battle they've fought many a time and have shown no fear of being asked to fight it again. Martin said New Zealand are aware of, and in some ways in awe of, that ability.

"They [South Africa] have probably been one of the better sides over the past five years. Their consistency is something we have to aspire to as a Test-playing nation," Martin said. He is not wrong. South Africa are the best travellers in world cricket over that period and have shown few signs of fragility abroad.

Martin is one of very few who has seen their weaknesses first hand. His 44 South African scalps at an average of 24.59 are the most wickets he has taken against any country. They have also come at a significantly better rate than his overall average of 33.33. At home, his record against South Africa is even more impressive. In two Tests in 2004, Martin claimed 18 wickets at an average of 16.66 against them, including 11 in the Auckland Test.

He hopes the recollections of those returns will act as motivation for the coming series. "It's about looking back on how I've played against them in the past. That will bring some good memories and some good, positive vibes," he said. "The series is more about revisiting those memories."

Edited by Siddarth Ravindran

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wanatawu on March 5, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Please man this guy is almost 38, playing while into his retirement, and still have not taken 250 wickets.

  • on March 5, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @ kiwi-jake Twice as old yes, twice as good never. Just look at their records. Martin is a very good bowler and will trouble the SA batsmen, but if there is some swing around Steyn will create havoc. He swings the ball both ways at real pace. If Martin is really as good as you say, surely he should be ranked in the top 10 at least.

  • on March 5, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    Another Kiwi with lots to say before a series. Don't you ever learn?

  • Nerk on March 5, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    Martin is one of the most whole hearted bowlers in the game. He just keeps charging in, and when he is on he is really on! It all really depends on the support he gets, and I believe that he doesn't have much. Sth Africa are the superior team, in batting and bowling. However, that does not mean it will be easy for them. If SA's top order fails, they find it hard to regroup. Despite the brilliance of Steyn, Morkel is a mixed bag and Philander is still very inexperienced at this level. SA should win this series, but NZ won't go without a fight, and if NZ do win, I believe Vittori will be the difference.

  • Kiwi-Jake on March 5, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    Martin is twice the bowler Steyn is.

  • Kolpak1989 on March 5, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    I don't think there is much doubt that Steyn is the superior bowler. He is handy enough with the bat too, which is definitely not something that Chris Martin can lay claim to. I think South Africa should win the series fairly comfortably. NZ should be proud of themselves if they manage to win one of the tests like they did against us (Aus).

  • teo. on March 4, 2012, 23:10 GMT

    SA to win, in a one-sided series. Unfortunately for all fans concerned. And, FYI to some earlier commentsi... Steyn has an EXCELLENT record in India.

  • redneck on March 4, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    i dont doubt nz can take 20 wickets with their seamers. what i do doubt is that they have a batsman that will make enough runs. south africa can rely on a de villers or amla or smith or kallis to play an innings of worth to put runs on the board. who will do it for new zealand against styen, morkel and philander? 20 wickets will be achievable for both sides its who can stand up and bat out a couple of sessions against the grain that will win the match.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 4, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    In their last series, there wasn't much between New Zealand and Australia, Australia maybe just coming out the better team if you forget the 29 all out or whatever it was.

    The South African bowlers, with the ever brilliant Steyn, should pose a real threat. I'd back Philander on those tracks too. But with New Zealand's excellent seam attack in Bracewell/Southee/Martin, we could be in for some low scoring matches.

  • PakCric786 on March 4, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    I think SA is very strong team and i can only see them as proper No1 team in the world because they are strong in every department plus past few years they have good record all over the world. NZ is good team but i think SA will win the series so good luck to both sides. But i would like SA to win and be No1. From Pak fan

  • wanatawu on March 5, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Please man this guy is almost 38, playing while into his retirement, and still have not taken 250 wickets.

  • on March 5, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    @ kiwi-jake Twice as old yes, twice as good never. Just look at their records. Martin is a very good bowler and will trouble the SA batsmen, but if there is some swing around Steyn will create havoc. He swings the ball both ways at real pace. If Martin is really as good as you say, surely he should be ranked in the top 10 at least.

  • on March 5, 2012, 6:50 GMT

    Another Kiwi with lots to say before a series. Don't you ever learn?

  • Nerk on March 5, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    Martin is one of the most whole hearted bowlers in the game. He just keeps charging in, and when he is on he is really on! It all really depends on the support he gets, and I believe that he doesn't have much. Sth Africa are the superior team, in batting and bowling. However, that does not mean it will be easy for them. If SA's top order fails, they find it hard to regroup. Despite the brilliance of Steyn, Morkel is a mixed bag and Philander is still very inexperienced at this level. SA should win this series, but NZ won't go without a fight, and if NZ do win, I believe Vittori will be the difference.

  • Kiwi-Jake on March 5, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    Martin is twice the bowler Steyn is.

  • Kolpak1989 on March 5, 2012, 0:31 GMT

    I don't think there is much doubt that Steyn is the superior bowler. He is handy enough with the bat too, which is definitely not something that Chris Martin can lay claim to. I think South Africa should win the series fairly comfortably. NZ should be proud of themselves if they manage to win one of the tests like they did against us (Aus).

  • teo. on March 4, 2012, 23:10 GMT

    SA to win, in a one-sided series. Unfortunately for all fans concerned. And, FYI to some earlier commentsi... Steyn has an EXCELLENT record in India.

  • redneck on March 4, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    i dont doubt nz can take 20 wickets with their seamers. what i do doubt is that they have a batsman that will make enough runs. south africa can rely on a de villers or amla or smith or kallis to play an innings of worth to put runs on the board. who will do it for new zealand against styen, morkel and philander? 20 wickets will be achievable for both sides its who can stand up and bat out a couple of sessions against the grain that will win the match.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 4, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    In their last series, there wasn't much between New Zealand and Australia, Australia maybe just coming out the better team if you forget the 29 all out or whatever it was.

    The South African bowlers, with the ever brilliant Steyn, should pose a real threat. I'd back Philander on those tracks too. But with New Zealand's excellent seam attack in Bracewell/Southee/Martin, we could be in for some low scoring matches.

  • PakCric786 on March 4, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    I think SA is very strong team and i can only see them as proper No1 team in the world because they are strong in every department plus past few years they have good record all over the world. NZ is good team but i think SA will win the series so good luck to both sides. But i would like SA to win and be No1. From Pak fan

  • Jeremybc on March 4, 2012, 21:07 GMT

    At least atm I dont think its too much of a stretch to say our test team are far superior than our ODI side - something that was the opposite for most of the the past decade. With Ross Taylor, Boult and Martin coming in its a lot better than ODI side. Plus D.Bracewell seems more of a test bowler.

    Its going to be tough but with greens wickets with less bounce than ODI pitches, it ll be a tougher fight ofr Sa i think

  • Rag-Aaron on March 4, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    Unfortunately SA always has the wood on us (bar the world cup that is). I suspect that it's because we have similar style teams in that they both play percentage cricket. Whereas other teams are flair or confidence based both these sides look to methodically make the most out of their resources and unfortunately we know who has the best resources. At least with Aus or England we could rely on them occaisionally getting a bit oveconfident or with Pakistan they might get a bit bored and lose their focus but with these guys we can only rely on matching them once every four years. Ahh, the agony of being a NZ supporter - still, we'll always have Hobart.

  • Lermy on March 4, 2012, 20:30 GMT

    I get a bit tired of our (NZ) players trash talking themselves up. Anything can happen in a test, but at least be realistic enough to admit SA are the far more powerful team. They can be beaten by NZ, as past history shows, but only by NZ recognising they can't outplay SA at their own game. Its going to be an uphill battle trying to get enough runs on the board to put them under any pressure. I just hope NZ don't try to act brave and bat first if winning the toss. They need to put SA in every time they have the option, as much to avoid facing their bowlers on the opening morning as anything. If SA then bat two days, well hopefully the pitch has flattenend out and there is some hope of surviving for the next three days. We will need luck, and very disciplined batting and bowling, to make any impression on SA. So far that hasn't been evident during this series.

  • MrGarreth on March 4, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    @Afnan Sheerazi uh does 7/51 against India in India ring any bells? I think Steyn knows a thing or 2 about flat wickets. New Zealander's seem to be clueless when it comes to Steyn. Apparently SA matches arent aired in NZ which would explain why Richard Hadlee thinks Jimmy Anderson is better than Steyn. Dont worry, you guys are about to have an up-close and personal demonstration.

  • on March 4, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    RSA 2 win within 3 days n an innings 2 spare in all de tests. 3-0 to de proteas n we take our rightfull place at de top, wer an overated English syd has abode wit much disgrace 4 a while nw. let me nt even comment abt dis guy even comparing himself 2 steyn...ridiculous!!!

  • AlanHarrison on March 4, 2012, 17:44 GMT

    @Mozenrath Tabaqi, well yes, as I agree Martin has a good record against South Africa, but the other eight teams against which Martin and Steyn have got their career test records are exactly the same. In that sense, bowling against the same batsmen, Steyn has a much stronger record

  • Robster1 on March 4, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    Will be so refreshing to see a series where the ball slightly dominates the bat - these conditions often produce the best matches. The NZ quicks, led by Martin, will have to be on top form to combat Steyn, Morkel, de Lange and co. This could well be the best series of the southern hemisphere summer.

  • on March 4, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    the biggest difference will be the quality of the batsmen. the south african batsmen will be able to handle the new zealand attack for better than the more fragile nz lineup.

  • mnemoniny on March 4, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Nobody crosses the ghost who bats.

  • on March 4, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    @AlanHarrison lol, BIG DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY OF BATSMEN, STEYN VS NZ AND MARTIN VS SA, MARTIN HAD A MUCH TOUGHER JOB AND HE DID IT VERY WELL AGAINST SA.

  • Spelele on March 4, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    I'm sorry to burst Martin's bubble, but his comments are utter bull! He is nowhere near Steyn. The NZ attack is (at best) efficient, but nothing batsmen in the calibre of Kallis, AB, Amla, Rudolph etc can't handle. I also don't see the relevance of his so-called 'impressive' home record against SA. Not only is this 'record' distorted because it's only from two Tests, it was attained almost 10 years ago. More than 75% of the batsmen he bowled to retired a long time ago (which suggests that he too is past his sell-by date). As for the ridiculous Kiwi belief that Bracewell will 'rip through SA', I think it's hilarious. Which classy batting line-up has he blown away? Aus? The same fragile line-up that got blown away for 47 against SA? Either than that, there is nothing to speak of in his career except a few meaningless performances against a school-boy Zim. We'll see how he does against inform batsmen like Amla and AB. Judging from the ODIs, it is SA's bowlers that will rip through NZ.

  • on March 4, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Still New Zealand r Very Good Team..

  • on March 4, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Steyn is just good in bouncy and english conditions but Martin is beteer bowler than he is even good at flat wickets in Subcontinent.He bowled well in India in 2010 series.

  • on March 4, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    Are you kidding me??? New Zealands attack barely has the experience that South Africa has. Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn alone will wreck the black caps batting line up with in a session on the first day. And you throw in the likes of philander and de Lange (if they go for four seamers) and the black caps will have no chances. Black Caps have a decent attack but to remotely compare it to that of south africa's is simply outrageous.

  • ajayp93 on March 4, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Dale Steyn may be good, but he's no Chris Martin!

  • AlanHarrison on March 4, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Well I admire Martin's audacity in thinking he can go toe-to-toe with Steyn, and Martin clearly has a good record against South Africa, but their overall records just don't compare at all. Martin's test bowling average and strike rate are each about 50% higher than Steyn's.

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  • AlanHarrison on March 4, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    Well I admire Martin's audacity in thinking he can go toe-to-toe with Steyn, and Martin clearly has a good record against South Africa, but their overall records just don't compare at all. Martin's test bowling average and strike rate are each about 50% higher than Steyn's.

  • ajayp93 on March 4, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Dale Steyn may be good, but he's no Chris Martin!

  • on March 4, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    Are you kidding me??? New Zealands attack barely has the experience that South Africa has. Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn alone will wreck the black caps batting line up with in a session on the first day. And you throw in the likes of philander and de Lange (if they go for four seamers) and the black caps will have no chances. Black Caps have a decent attack but to remotely compare it to that of south africa's is simply outrageous.

  • on March 4, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    Steyn is just good in bouncy and english conditions but Martin is beteer bowler than he is even good at flat wickets in Subcontinent.He bowled well in India in 2010 series.

  • on March 4, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Still New Zealand r Very Good Team..

  • Spelele on March 4, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    I'm sorry to burst Martin's bubble, but his comments are utter bull! He is nowhere near Steyn. The NZ attack is (at best) efficient, but nothing batsmen in the calibre of Kallis, AB, Amla, Rudolph etc can't handle. I also don't see the relevance of his so-called 'impressive' home record against SA. Not only is this 'record' distorted because it's only from two Tests, it was attained almost 10 years ago. More than 75% of the batsmen he bowled to retired a long time ago (which suggests that he too is past his sell-by date). As for the ridiculous Kiwi belief that Bracewell will 'rip through SA', I think it's hilarious. Which classy batting line-up has he blown away? Aus? The same fragile line-up that got blown away for 47 against SA? Either than that, there is nothing to speak of in his career except a few meaningless performances against a school-boy Zim. We'll see how he does against inform batsmen like Amla and AB. Judging from the ODIs, it is SA's bowlers that will rip through NZ.

  • on March 4, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    @AlanHarrison lol, BIG DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY OF BATSMEN, STEYN VS NZ AND MARTIN VS SA, MARTIN HAD A MUCH TOUGHER JOB AND HE DID IT VERY WELL AGAINST SA.

  • mnemoniny on March 4, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Nobody crosses the ghost who bats.

  • on March 4, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    the biggest difference will be the quality of the batsmen. the south african batsmen will be able to handle the new zealand attack for better than the more fragile nz lineup.

  • Robster1 on March 4, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    Will be so refreshing to see a series where the ball slightly dominates the bat - these conditions often produce the best matches. The NZ quicks, led by Martin, will have to be on top form to combat Steyn, Morkel, de Lange and co. This could well be the best series of the southern hemisphere summer.