Chris Martin stats analysis July 3, 2013

Superb v South Africa, rubbish v Australia

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

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.

Break-up of Martin's Test career
  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
Career 233 33.81 60.1 10/ 1

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.)

Most Test wickets by a New Zealand bowler
  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).

Most Test wickets v South Africa since their readmission
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.

Least Test runs among batsmen who played at least 50 Tests
Batsman Tests Runs Average Ducks
Chris Martin 71 123 2.36 36
BS Chandrasekhar 58 167 4.07 23
Danish Kaneria 61 360 7.05 25
Fidel Edwards 55 394 6.56 19
Ishant Sharma 51 450 9.78 17
Matthew Hoggard 67 473 7.27 19
Lance Gibbs 79 488 6.97 15
Iqbal Qasim 50 549 13.07 10
Glenn McGrath 124 641 7.36 35
Allan Donald 72 652 10.68 17

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prashan on July 7, 2013, 12:39 GMT

    Fact that Martin has a good average against South Africa again highlights how unpredictable and weird is cricket. Like the fact that Hashim Amla has a poor test batting average against Sri Lanka considering our weak test bowling attack, but a very good test batting average against other opponents. Again, Jacques Kallis has an average of 40.36 in all home and away tests against Sri Lanka, which is mediocre by his standards. Kohli for example is fabulously great in ODIs especially against Sri Lanka. Reasons as to why Martin was at his best against the South Africans but at his worse against the Aussies is quite an unanswerable question.

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2013, 10:30 GMT

    You know what is the most awkward thing in this whole article? I am amazed and shocked as well to see that Ishant already played 50+ test matches and he has 17 ducks under his name too :O

    Ironically, apart from the fabulous Australia tour he is famous for his awesome batting against Australia in Mohali ..!!

  • Shanmugam on July 3, 2013, 23:39 GMT

    Ishant Sharma has played 50 tests? That's unbelievable. He would be lucky to play 5 had he played for any other top test playing nation. Why do India persist with this non-performer? Surely, there are much better bowlers in India to replace him. He was decent when he started but he has regressed. It cannot be attributed to a lack of form that almost every player goes through. It is a lack of ability or hard work. Some say he is unlucky and to an extent it is true. But still, an average of 38 after 50 tests is poor even accounting for bad luck.

    Chris Martin? A very good bowler and an (in)famous tailender. But I am surprised that he actually has good stats against SA. Looking at Anderson's ordinary numbers, it looks that much better.

  • Rob on July 3, 2013, 22:09 GMT

    A quality bowler and complete legend. His stats v the Saffers are high quality indeed. You'll be much missed Chris.

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