Martyn Charles John Ball
April 26, 1970, Bristol
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
King Edmund School, Yate
There is no doubting that Martyn Ball served a long and thorough apprenticeship before suddenly being elevated to the international spotlight, adding weight to the idea that spin bowlers mature later than most.
Ball's persistence was, in itself, a valuable quality for a county that was producing few stars and which was, like Ball, seldom threatening to break free of mediocrity in terms of results. However, when Gloucestershire emerged as the kings of English one-day cricket at the turn of the century, Ball was at the forefront of the resurgence.
Not built as a sprinter, weighing in nearer 13 stone than 12, and around 5' 9", Ball can always be relied upon as a doughty performer, even under pressure. An excellent slip fielder, he can also provide useful runs down the order, while his off-breaks have become more potent. In the 2001 season he held 21 catches, averaged nearly 30 with the bat, and took 34 wickets at just over 25 apiece.
At a time when there were few experienced purveyors of off-spin bowling in the English game, it was to Ball that the selectors turned when Robert Croft decided that he did not feel comfortable about going to India. Having played for England Under-19s back in 1989, after which he received no further international recognition, the amiable Ball finally emerged as something more than an ordinary county professional, much to the delight of his many admirers in the game. He picked up wickets and chipped in with the bat in his one first-class game on tour, and held on to a sharp slip catch when fielding as a substitute in Ahmedabad.
That was the closest he came to Test cricket, England preferring Richard
Dawson and Ashley Giles, and while Ball's enthusiasm was noticed by the
management, it was probably his last chance to reach the pinnacle of the
game. In his twilight years he became chairman of the Professional Cricketers' Association, whilst continuing to perform consistently for Gloucestershire, but shocked the club by retiring in January 2007 with a one-year contract left. He opted to take up a role in business, with a US-based property company.
Cricinfo Staff January 2007
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