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July 2, 2013
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Players/Officials: Chris Martin
Teams: New Zealand
Chris Martin, the New Zealand fast bowler, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket at the age of 38. Martin will leave the game with 233 Test wickets at 33.81, making him New Zealand's third-highest Test wicket taker, behind only Richard Hadlee and Daniel Vettori.
Martin played 71 Tests, 20 ODIs and six Twenty20s for his country in an international career that began in November 2000 when he made his Test debut against South Africa in Bloemfontein. It was also in South Africa that Martin played his final Test, at Newlands in January this year, when he finished with 3 for 63, the best figures from the New Zealand attack in an innings defeat.
Although Martin has had ups and downs over the course of his career and has been in and out of the side - he has missed 32 of the Tests New Zealand have played since his debut - he had picked up 23 wickets at 27.86 over the past 18 months. However, he leaves at a time when New Zealand have found some talented young fast bowlers, with Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell all having made their mark over the past couple of years.
"It feels like the right time to step down," Martin said. "I have loved every second and given it everything when playing for the Black Caps, but after 15 years of professional cricket, it's time to pursue a new challenge. Representing the Black Caps has been a massive privilege, and playing with a group of guys who're so passionate about doing well for their country has been very special. I wish [captain] Brendon [McCullum] and the team all the best for the future."
Although Martin was rarely the centre of attention in the New Zealand side, he was a reliable performer who in swinging conditions could become a major threat. When Martin passed 200 Test wickets in late 2011, he was described by Vettori as "an under-rated bowler" who "deserves to be regarded as one of New Zealand's best-ever Test bowlers".
Twice he was Man of the Match in Tests, first with a tally of 11 for 180 in New Zealand's nine-wicket win over South Africa in Auckland in 2003-04, and then eight years later in Napier, where he collected match figures of 8 for 31 in a crushing innings victory over Zimbabwe. Martin picked up five-wicket hauls on ten occasions in Tests and he saved his best work for South Africa, against whom he claimed 55 wickets at 26.72.
The batsmen he dismissed most often in Test cricket tell of his talent: he removed Graeme Smith eight times and Jacques Kallis on six occasions. No bowler from any country has dismissed Smith as often in Tests as Martin. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said that Martin was one of the most respected players in the New Zealand dressing room and his experience would be missed.
"The way Chris goes about his business both on and off the field has made him one of the most respected players in the changing room," Hesson said. "He's been a great role model for younger team mates and will be sorely missed. We wish him all the best for the future."
David White, the New Zealand Cricket chief executive, also paid tribute to Martin, saying his work ethic helped him become one of New Zealand's most successful bowlers in Tests.
"During his career Chris has formed a reputation as one of the most consistent performers in world cricket, something which can be put down to his relentless work ethic," White said. "He's shown all the qualities required to perform on the international scene - fight, determination and a huge passion for the game. It's his attitude which has led Chris to becoming one of New Zealand's most successful Test bowlers."
However, as impressive as his bowling was over 13 years in international cricket, Martin became as well known for his comical batting exploits at No.11, which endeared him to cricket fans the world over. In 104 Test innings, Martin managed only 123 runs at an average of 2.36, and the only time he reached double-figures was with 12 not out against Bangladesh in Dunedin in 2007-08.
Only Courtney Walsh (43) made more ducks in Test cricket than Martin's 36, although he can comfortably claim the record for the most Test pairs. On seven occasions, Martin was dismissed for 0 in both innings of a Test - Walsh, Mervyn Dillon, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Muttiah Muralitharan and Marvan Atapattu are all equal second with four pairs each.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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