July 3, 2013

Chris Martin walks

If Martin Crowe is the best international batsman New Zealand has ever produced, Chris Martin is the worst. The latter has now called time on his New Zealand career.

Never mind Martin was a number eleven! He will be remembered for his thirty-six blobs, in an era of boring multi-purpose tailenders where - heck - even Glenn McGrath scored a Test fifty! And McGrath, even the proud Australians will agree, was marginally better than Courtney Walsh with bat in hand.

Never mind that Martin finishes with 233 Test sticks, third only to the great Sir Richard Hadley and the  versatile Daniel Vettori among bowlers from the land of the long white cloud! He will bring to mind the nicknames 'walking wicket', the amusing 'phantom' or the downright ghastly 'the walking wicket'. Producers of Japanese horror films can take a walk.

Heck, I do not even remember  Chris Martin's bowling action. I do, however, recall that he once scythed through an Indian top-five including Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dravid for below fifty aggregate runs in the second innings of a Test match in India some years ago. New Zealand could still not win the Test as Harbhajan Singh of all people flayed a Test hundred. More serious men must have thought the world cruel, not Martin, I don't think.

Shane Bond, as the co-author of this blog might say, was badass and brilliant at the same time. Less Dale Steyn than Steyn due to a Zaheer-esque physique, statistics and for being a leader without a compelling support cast. Bond was, ahem, New Zealand's cricket's bowling Vinod Kambli; a fantastic could-have-been that fans world over like to imagine. Chris Martin on the other hand has been Kiwi cricket's has-been, a swing bowler of the kind English county cricket regularly produces. And despite looking like a willfully amusing version of Ralph Fienne's Lord Voldemort, Martin has spearheaded New Zealand's Test bowling attack when the country's international stocks have dipped to new lows. Good bloke Chris!

Personally, I have always loved seeing characters on the field. If Shane Warne is cast as the ultimate sorcerer and Chris Gayle as the cool guy next door with bat in hand, Chris Martin has been an entertainer who seems to not take himself too seriously, and who has thereby brought the meaning of sport right back into the game. For that alone, he deserves some Christmas cards every year. Philip Hughes may be sending one too because the next time he faces upto New Zealand he need not worry about "c. Guptill b. C. Martin' next to his name.

Goodbye, Mr. Martin. The glimpses have been fun, but I wish I had seen more of you.

PS: Here are two wonderful tributes to Martin, a poignant one by Iain O'Brien who had seen an elder brother in the retiree, and a more cheerful variant by Paul Ford.  

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