Martin running out of time to threaten Australia
Besides his batting, there is one significant gap in the Test resume of Chris Martin. No matter what he tries, regardless of what sort of form he's in, he just can't seem to deliver against Australia. In eight Tests against them, Martin has taken 14 wickets at 74.14. At 35, this series could be Martin's last chance to rectify that record and he is keen to get a good start at the Basin Reserve, a venue where he has played well over the years.
"They're very disciplined," Martin said of the Australian batsmen. "I've found in series that I've played against them in the past that I've actually walked away thinking I couldn't have really done much more, I've bowled as well as I could without really getting the results. I think that shows the quality of the guys you come up against.
"They're quite willing to bat time and pretty much see you off. If you're bowling well to them they're not necessarily going to try and take you apart for that particular spell, so they're a very disciplined outfit and one you can't get cheap wickets against."
Adding to the challenge for New Zealand is the absence of Jesse Ryder, who trained with the squad on Tuesday but is still recovering from injury, and they have also lost Iain O'Brien and Shane Bond to Test retirement in the past few months. But despite lacking experience in some departments, Martin said there was a belief around the group that they could beat Australia in a Test for the first time since 1993.
"I think so," he said. "I think you saw in the one-day and T20 series that the guys weren't really stepping backwards, they were coming forwards. Of course against a good opposition occasionally they're going to knock you off centre at times, but I think throughout the Test series there's enough quality in the side to at least hold them and I think the pushing over the line thing is in our hands."
The New Zealanders trained out in the middle of the Basin Reserve on Tuesday and Martin was impressed by the way the pitch helped the fast bowlers. He said it would be a surprise if the selectors went for a second slow bowler, meaning Jeetan Patel might have to wait until the second Test in Hamilton to make an appearance.
"Looking out there, it may have a bit more bounce and pace than most wickets that we play on in the country so the two-spinner option may not come out here," Martin said. "But I suppose it's Tuesday and we start on Friday so it could change colour and the spinners could come in to it. I presume at the moment it's the same side as Bangladesh with the option of either playing an extra seamer or Jeetan."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo