New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton, 3rd day March 29, 2010

Time running out for Martin

The third day was a hard one for all the New Zealand bowlers but their ageing spearhead Chris Martin has reason to feel concerned. The youthful Tim Southee picked up two early wickets and the newcomer Brent Arnel grabbed a couple later in the day but Martin earned none while leaking runs at a greater rate than any of his colleagues.

While fast men are entitled to occasional days of difficulty, the worry for New Zealand is that such days are becoming too frequent for Martin. In this series Australia's batsmen have found his lines predictable and he has taken 1 for 260. Notably, he was the last of the specialist bowlers to whom Daniel Vettori handed the ball on the third day.

"It was tough for our seamers," Brendon McCullum said. "We don't have that out-and-out pace of some attacks and we need more assistance from the wicket. They did a reasonable job. Tim Southee continued to bowl well; Brent Arnel came back with that second new ball and did a really good job.

"It was disappointing for Chris, he probably wasn't at his best but they attacked him and put him under pressure. For a guy who's played 50-odd Test matches I'm sure he'll come back and respond next time."

The problem for Martin is ensuring there is a next time. At 35, a man who offers nothing with the bat or in the field has no option but to take wickets, and an average of 41.14 over the past year is not an adequate return. New Zealand's next Test tour is not for six months, when they are scheduled to visit Bangladesh, and by then injuries should not be a barrier to choosing Daryl Tuffey, Kyle Mills or Andy McKay.

Arnel has shown promise in his first series, nibbling the ball around in both games, and he was nominated by the centurion Simon Katich as the pick of the bowlers on the third day. Southee might not have played this Test but for Tuffey's injury, yet highlighted his potential with four first-innings wickets and a couple more on the third morning when he bowled to an inventive plan from Vettori.

Shane Watson was the first to fall for a well-laid trap, when he pulled Southee straight to the man at deep midwicket. But the masterstroke was the plot to remove Ricky Ponting, who walked out to see the leg-side field stacked, was targeted on his pads and duly clipped the ball straight to short-leg, where BJ Watling held an excellent catch.

"It wasn't something we worked on overnight, just the fact Tim was bowling really well and getting a bit of tail," McCullum said of the Ponting plan. "We discussed it and it seemed like the right thing to do. It probably wasn't how we thought we would get him out, but you've got to be a bit proactive and try to get in front of the game and hope that things happen."

Unfortunately for the hosts, not much happened for them after the Ponting dismissal as Katich and Michael Hussey built a 155-run partnership and the lead swelled to 300 with six wickets in hand by the close of play. However, McCullum said New Zealand had not given up hope of rattling through the Australian lower order to take a declaration out of Ponting's hands.

"We're two wickets away from bowling at their bowlers and we saw in the first innings there's no reason why we can't run through that bottom order," he said. "For us the key is to get those first two wickets, and if we do that relatively early then I see no reason why we couldn't bowl them out and still have the game in our control."

For that to happen, they will need contributions from their best bowlers. There is still room for Martin to stand up and show the skills that have earned him 181 Test wickets, but his time to lift is rapidly running out.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • giovaughn on March 29, 2010, 20:17 GMT

    right now what New Zealand needs is a moral booster a series vs Pakistan West Indies or Bangladesh at home should the trick i thought they would be happy & doing better after the way they challenged Pakistan

  • michael on March 29, 2010, 20:12 GMT

    we need to move on as soon as wagner and mckay and stuf r available..Team 4 the next 8 tests later this year should be 1.McCullem 2.Guptill 3.Taylor 4.Sinclair 5.Rhyder 6.Williamson 7.Vettori 8.Franklin 9.Mills 10.Mckay/Southee11.Wagner- With that team we are gud enuf to atleast compete. McCullem needs to open with guptill. It atleast would be better than wat we have now and makes our middle and lower order quite strong

  • Stefan on March 29, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    Word around the campfire is that Coldplay is retiring anyway after this series. I doubt he'd be picked again anyway. McKay should come in until Wagner is available and/or a couple of the U-19 bowlers mature. Complaining about Martin misses the point a little, at least in regard to this Test: we threw it away by not taking advantage of bowling Aus out for 231 in the first innings. And the blame for that goes on the batsmen (Watling and Taylor apart).

  • David on March 29, 2010, 14:01 GMT

    martin should be banned immediately for wearing that ridiculous white bando on his head, no wonder he couldn't get a wicket, the aussies obviously thought that he was a girl

  • Peter on March 29, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    James franklin would have been a much batter pick than Martin. Left armer, swings the ball which Hamilton is known for, and of course he can bat, pretty damn well too.

  • Ed on March 29, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    We will need to take him to Bangladesh - as England found in their recent tour, the going can be tough on flat pitches. Martin does put in 100% every time - he has been our most consistent bowler for a few years now.

    NZ has 8 Tests towards the end of 2010 (2 in Bang, 3 in India and 3 at home v Pak) so I believe we will need every decent fast bowler we've got to get through the season.

    The last thing we need is to drop Martin and have the new lot get injured bowling their butts off on flat Bangladesh and Indian wickets right before the 2011 World Cup!

  • Bob on March 29, 2010, 10:30 GMT

    Declare, roll 'em, send 'em in again & bring in the double outright i say.

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    Yes, I think sadly you are right. Our bowling has a distinct lack of penetration and Martin will be lucky if he adds to his 55 tests....

  • seshu on March 29, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    He should better retire...

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