New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 1st day March 7, 2012

'Feeling of calmness' playing South Africa - Martin

After a day in which he extended his already impressive record against South Africa, rocking them with a post-tea burst that claimed arguably their three best batsmen, Chris Martin would be expected to be quite elated. Or, at least, show signs of being somewhat pleased with his performance on a day when New Zealand needed a hero. He did not.

Instead, he took a measured view of why he was able to trouble a highly-rated batting line-up, yet again. "Certain [batsmen's] techniques suit certain bowling and, over the years, the way I bowl has troubled these guys. It [success against South Africa] has been reasonably consistent," Martin said. "It brings an added feeling of calmness, which I don't always have against all opposition. I certainly enjoyed myself today."

Martin has taken more wickets against South Africa than any other Test team - 47 in 11 matches, including this one, at 23.74 - and he has dismissed Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis more times than any other batsmen in Tests: seven and six, respectively.

When he sees either of Smith and Kallis standing 22 yards away, Martin said, that statistic does not register. "It may be going through their minds," he suggested. "I do know I've bowled well to them in the past though. Exactly what I do is probably a little bit difficult for him [Smith] at times, but there were also some pretty good wicket-taking balls in there [today]." The one that rose up off a length and had Kallis awkwardly edging, for example, or the delivery trapped AB de Villiers lbw after coming back into the right-hand batsman - impeccable pieces of bowling, both.

With three-wickets in four balls, Martin singlehandedly brought New Zealand back into a day that seemed headed decidedly South Africa's way. Had the visitors been allowed to continue piling on the runs, Ross Taylor's decision to bowl first and the incisiveness of the attack would have been questioned, and it's likely New Zealand would have been written off even more than they have already been, by their own media.

Martin said that that opinion has not affected the team, because they have made a concerted effort to stay away from it. "A lot of the things written and said aren't coming out of our camp," he said. "As far as putting up a fight and competing to the best of our abilities, that's more the focus. If the results come, that's because we've stayed tight and haven't listened to the naysayers. The camp is quite good at shielding us from that, especially the younger guys. As long as the older guys can keep everyone together [it's fine] … that's kind of how we operate."

One of those senior players is Martin himself and he understands his responsibility in acting as a barrier and making contributions that will change perceptions. Today, he feels he succeeded in doing both. "The good vibes you get from putting in a spell like that can carry over into the rest of series, that's definitely how you've got to approach it over what will be a long, tough series," he said. "With a top order as strong as theirs, once you get a run on, the team definitely lifts."

Although he made the main incisions, Martin had praise for his team-mates, particularly Doug Bracewell, who would have had two wickets to his name had his lbw appeal to Jacques Rudolph not come off a no-ball. "He realises that he is pretty tight [close to a no-ball] sometimes, so it's something that he needs to work on throughout his career," Martin said. "If he bowls this way throughout the series [though], he will get rewarded a lot more."

Martin's pragmatic approach extends to his own career as well. He has acknowledged that at 37-years-old time is not on his side so he wants to make the most of what is left of his international career. "It gets to a point when you are close to the end, when you are trying to enjoy every game and every series because you know there is a limit to how long you can go," he said. "It's a difficult thing to do when you are younger and trying to keep your place in the team, but when you are performing and you've only got a certain amount of series left in you, it pays to enjoy it."

Edited by Nikita Bastian

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    Tom Cat can go on until he is 39 like Courtney Walsh. Supremely fit and almost never gets injured. 300 test wickets

  • Unmesh on March 7, 2012, 19:25 GMT

    It's always good to watch Martin bowl. His batting is enjoyable too..although in a different way :-)

  • mritunjai on March 7, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    I have been a Chris Martin fan since that test in India when on a boring 4th day of a test match which was heading for a draw, he suddenly reduced India to 16 for 5 sending the chills down the spine of indian supporters. I am a big fan of Shane Bond, but I respect Martin for whatever he is. A trier who gives his best.

  • SUNIL on March 7, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    well once again the nz media gets slapped. the team is worthy of doing wonders keeping in mind what they did in Hobart now only after losing a one day series why does the media forget the good work. everyone knows rsa are chokers and they do well but they cannot do well in a mega event so one has to keep faith in the black caps and this crew of young and old will definitely do well in the test series.

  • Gav on March 7, 2012, 18:38 GMT

    Well said Anesh. For the past year or so we have had a great bowling line-up working for us, led by Vettori and Martin, but we've lacked the ability to back them up with runs. Even the recent win over Australia was marked by some quite poor batting - it was just lucky for us that it was both teams. I do really hope though that the Kiwi batsmen stand up for this one - but I am nervous... A standard condition for a NZ Cricket fan I'm afraid...

  • Al on March 7, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    Chris's name MARTIN must have respect in South Africa by now and I think now the world. Over the last 5 years it has been have mastered a true art of troubling all batsmen with good old fashioned skill without the all out speed....I think you have it all as a bowler for control and temperament....may your carreer carry on forever....a loyal supporter...I know you know there is plenty more suprises to come in this game so keep going my friend...Al

  • Dummy4 on March 7, 2012, 16:51 GMT

    kudos chris martin you could have been a hero if you were playing for a batting giants team

  • Johan on March 7, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    Well done Chris! From a Saffer, you are really exceptional for your age! With day one done and dusted I think a few people that had a lot of negative things to say about this tour would reconsider... All the best to all, we don't need stupid whitewashes in Test Cricket, we need well played games that do Test Cricket proud!

  • Satish on March 7, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    NZ have upper hand and what they lacked in the past is consistency and performing on key moments.. If they manage to do it, they can continue their upper hand.. A winning NZ is needed in cricket.. Especially, test cricket..

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