Damien Richard Martyn
October 21, 1971, Darwin, Northern Territory
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
Top order batter
No contemporary cricketer, Tendulkar aside, made batting look so simple as Damien Martyn. But it was not always thus. For the brash 21-year-old who waltzed into the Australian team at Dean Jones's expense, batting was an exercise in extravagance. To defend was to display weakness - a policy that backfired in 1993-94 when Martyn's airy square-drive at a crucial moment in Sydney triggered a five-run defeat by South Africa and a six-year hitch to his own promising career. By the time Western Australia, wanting a pretty face to spearhead their marketing campaign, had made him captain at 23, Martyn looked a tormented man. All the more remarkable, then, that he blossomed into a relaxed, classical, feathery artist. He was an elastic fieldsman and an old-style batsman whose first movement was back. He played with a high elbow, a still head, a golfer's deft touch, and had all the shots, including perhaps the most brutal reverse-sweep in the game.
Mostly, though, Martyn stuck to the textbook and composed pristine hundreds which, like the feats of the best wicketkeepers, passed almost unnoticed: an observation supported by the curious fact that, despite a Test average in the fifties, he reached the age of 30 without winning a Man-of-the-Match award. He was the quiet man of the 2003 World Cup-raising side, too, playing a minor role until he spanked 88 not out in the final - with a broken finger that later kept him out of a West Indian tour. His magnificent 13-month streak of 1608 Test runs at 61 and two Man-of-the-Series prizes from March 2004 finally moved him from the dressing-room shadows to the more uncomfortable limelight. Showing his hard-earned versatility, he crafted seven centuries on surfaces ranging from raging turners in Sri Lanka and India to green seamers in New Zealand and the hard bounce of home.
The flood ended in England and following a series of 178 runs and a couple of horrid umpiring decisions he was the major casualty of the Ashes loss. Retaining a one-day spot, he expected his five-day days were over - "If that's my last Test match, well, I've had a great time" - but was reprieved when the selectors wanted experience for the South Africa tour. As the decision to ignore policy by looking back to a 34 year old became increasingly doubtful, Martyn repaid with a nerveless 101 that led to victory in the final Test. After being a key part in Australia's first Champions Trophy success, he struggled in the opening two Tests of the Ashes series and swiftly retired.
In February 2008 he swung another surprise of sorts by announcing he had joined the unofficial Indian Cricket League and when that became defunct, comeback-kid Martyn had another unexpected return, signing for Shane Warne's IPL side Rajasthan Royals for US$100,000 in January 2010.
Cricinfo staff January 2010
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