Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori has showered generous praise on fast bowler Chris Martin, who became only the fourth New Zealand bowler to take 200 Test wickets when he dismissed Kyle Jarvis in the Bulawayo Test. Vettori, who is the second-highest wicket-taker for New Zealand, said Martin was one of the best to have bowled for New Zealand.
"Chris has always impressed me right from day one," Vettori told Sunday Star Times. "He's a fantastic bowler and probably an under-rated bowler as well. To do what he's done, it's a real credit to him and I certainly believe he deserves to be regarded as one of NZ's best-ever Test bowlers."
It had been a long wait for Martin, who spent 10 months stuck on 199 Test wickets, and then more than 23 overs of toil after Test cricket finally came along. "It was an unfortunate circumstance that I had to wait that long, simply because we haven't played any Test cricket since January," Martin said. "I'd bowled 23-odd overs before it came so I didn't know quite how to celebrate, it was more relief than anything, but it's a moment I'll remember for quite some time."
Three of the 200-club men studied in the same school, of course at different times. "To be one of four players to achieve that milestone is an honour, " Martin said. "And there are three from Christchurch Boys' High (Richard Hadlee and Chris Cairns being the other two), so that's a nice achievement for the school. Chris Cairns is obviously immediately above me on the list and I think he's got 218 wickets, so it would be nice to catch him."
Martin's average of 34.94 might not strike fear, but that it is only marginally worse than Vettori's 33.61 proves Vettori's point that Martin might be under-rated. More than the statistics, it is Martin's reliability and longevity that have shone through despite starting his career late - less than month shy of his 26th birthday. "Shane Bond was around for a while, but for the most part Chris has carried the pace attack by himself over a long period of time," Vettori said. "He's always been reliable."
What Martin has managed is rare for New Zealand fast bowlers - a near injury-free career. He has outlasted more incisive and flashier fast bowlers. New Zealand want him to stay around to share the experience he has garnered over his 11-year-old career with the younger quicks. Martin turns 37 in December, and there is likely to be debate around his place in the side, especially after match returns of 3 for 159 in the Test against Zimbabwe. Vettori, though, thinks there is more to come.
"He's still got a lot left in him and I think he wants to play for a wee while longer, which would be great for us to have him working with the likes of Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell coming through," Vettori said. "It's encouraging to have the three of them around for the Australian series [next month]. It's the first time I've seen Bracewell bowl and I've been quite impressed by him."