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Chris Martin's favourite opponent was South Africa, against whom he had a better than Glenn McGrath did, but his Test bowling against Australia was more than 64
July 3, 2013
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Players/Officials: Chris Martin
Teams: New Zealand
Only one New Zealand fast bowler - Richard Hadlee - has played more Test matches, or taken more Test wickets than Chris Martin. That, in a nutshell, captures the value that Martin offered to New Zealand cricket for more than a decade. Chris Cairns and Danny Morrison were more high-profile players (and Cairns obviously offered a lot with the bat as well), but neither played as many Tests: Cairns took 218 wickets in 62 matches, while Morrison played 48 Tests for his 160 wickets. And then there was Martin's No.11 batting, which became legendary for its ineptness: in 104 innings he scored 123 runs, with only one innings in which he touched double-digits. Of the 52 times he was dismissed, 36 were for ducks, the second-highest in Test history; apart from this, he was also not out on zero 28 times, ten more than the second-best.
He'll arguably be remembered by fans more for his batting than his bowling, but for the team the consistency and control he brought with his bowling was a huge asset. There were the odd blips in his career when he lost his swing and his incisiveness, but for the most part he was New Zealand's go-to seamer over the last decade.
Martin started his Test career in style, taking 11 wickets against South Africa - his favourite opponents - at an average of 26, but then followed a few ordinary performances, including three successive series against England and Australia when his bowling average was more than 50. (Click here for Martin's series-wise bowling stats.) After 21 Tests, his bowling average was almost 38, though that was also the period when he produced his best match figures - 11 for 180 against South Africa in Auckland, in a series in which he took 18 wickets in two Tests.
Then came the period when he sustained his high level over a much longer time: over the next three years, he took 71 wickets in 19 Tests at an average of less than 28. Thereafter, he never regained that level, though he was reasonably consistent. In his last Test, quite fittingly against South Africa, he took 3 for 63 in 19.2 overs.
|Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
|First 21 Tests||65||37.96||61.4||5/ 1|
|Next 19 Tests||71||27.81||52.7||3/ 0|
|Last 31 Tests||97||35.41||64.7||2/ 0|
Martin is one of only four New Zealand bowlers to take 200-plus Test wickets, and one of five to go past 150. Like most bowlers, he preferred home conditions too, averaging 31 at home and more than 38 overseas. Among overseas countries, his favourite was South Africa - in nine Tests there, he averaged 29.13 at a strike rate of 54.7. (Click here for Martin's bowling career summary in Tests.)
|Overall||In home Tests|
|Bowler||Tests||Wickets||Average||5WI/ 10WM||Tests||Wickets||Average||5WI/ 10WM|
|Richard Hadlee||86||431||22.29||36/ 9||43||201||22.96||15/ 3|
|Daniel Vettori||111||359||34.20||20/ 3||57||159||37.11||6/ 2|
|Chris Martin||71||233||33.81||10/ 1||38||146||30.99||7/ 1|
|Chris Cairns||62||218||29.40||13/ 1||31||109||28.35||5/ 1|
|Danny Morrison||48||160||34.68||10/ 0||27||115||27.12||9/ 0|
|Lance Cairns||43||130||32.92||6/ 1||24||75||28.90||3/ 0|
|Ewen Chatfield||43||123||32.17||3/ 1||24||66||30.74||0/ 0|
As mentioned earlier, South Africa were clearly his favourite opponents. So good was he against them that his average is slightly better than Glenn McGrath's versus the same opposition. In fact, among bowlers who've bowled at least 250 overs against South Africa since their readmission into Test cricket, Martin is the only one with a strike rate of less than 50 balls per wicket; the next-best is Javagal Srinath's 51.7. Against all other teams combined, Martin's bowling average was 36, almost ten runs more than the average against South Africa.
The team against whom he struggled the most was Australia: in 12 Tests he took 23 wickets at an average of 64.21, and a strike rate of 102 balls per wicket. His stats against them are so poor that among all the 136 bowlers who've bowled at least 300 overs in Test cricket against Australia, Martin's average is the worst. Among those who've done better than Martin are Carl Hooper (average 60.35), Ashley Giles (56.95), and Venkatapathy Raju (50.35).
|Bowler||Tests||Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
|Shane Warne||24||130||24.16||60.9||7/ 2|
|Muttiah Muralitharan||15||104||22.22||56.8||11/ 4|
|Anil Kumble||21||84||31.79||81.3||3/ 0|
|Javagal Srinath||13||64||24.48||51.7||4/ 0|
|Harbhajan Singh||11||60||28.40||59.4||4/ 0|
|James Anderson||17||57||38.07||71.5||2/ 0|
|Glenn McGrath||17||57||27.33||71.6||2/ 0|
|Chris Martin||14||55||26.72||49.6||4/ 1|
|Courtney Walsh||10||51||19.80||55.4||2/ 0|
|Brett Lee||14||50||34.64||62.4||2/ 0|
And then there was Martin's legendary batting skills, which was surely one of the main reasons why he played only 20 one-day internationals. In the 97 international matches he played - 71 Tests, 20 ODIs, and six Twenty20 internationals - he scored a grand total of 136 runs. In 192 first-class matches he averaged 3.71, in 142 List A games his average was 2.86. However, in seven Twenty20 matches he scored 16 runs and was dismissed just once, giving him a grand average of 16.
In Tests, only once did he go get into double-digits, when he made an unbeaten 12 against Bangladesh in Dunedin in 2008. His second-highest score in Tests was 7.
Among those who've played in at least 50 Tests, Martin's aggregate of 123 runs is easily the lowest - the next-lowest is BS Chandrasekhar's 167 runs in 58 Tests, at an average of 4.07. Clearly, the legend of Chris Martin the batsman isn't going to die anytime soon.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on TwitterFeeds: S Rajesh
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur