Fare thee well, Damien Martyn. Let me suggest that contrary to the official line, Damien Martyn’s sacrificial gesture was not entirely voluntary. Who retires, completely of their own free will, in the middle of an Ashes series, less than one week from their home Test match? The one day team and the Test team are separate, are they not? Martyn was Australia’s best batsman in the recent ICC trophy and there is a World Cup just three months away. Sorry folks, but we don’t know the whole story.
In my last article, at the end of the Second Test, I suggested that Martyn was done for. Some have suggest that Martyn was no more rash than Hayden and Langer. Not true. Martyn’s shot was rasher than rash. The big difference was that when Hayden and Langer got out, Australia were trying to get on top and had plenty of wickets left. When Marto got out, the back of it was broken, there was work to do but the run rate was at a level where such risks were not necessary. We needed to consolidate and not allow a collapse to start. Martyn already had four from the first ball of the over (and what a spectacular shot) – more than we needed and even a single would have been a bonus. He approached it like a madman. I believe that he knew that was his last innings and either he was trying to make a point, or was trying to go out in a blaze of glory.
And where was Martyn in the post match hysteria? As grown men ran around hugging, kissing and even crying, barely a glimpse of Martyn was to be had.
Here are some cold hard facts about Martyn’s career. I have attached his average chart for your enjoyment. We all know about that shot at the SCG against South Africa. After being recalled on the tour of NZ to replace someone who was injured (can’t remember who it was) he scored 89 not out and had a large partnership with Gilchrist as Australia recovered from 5-29. In that respect he played an important part in achieving the winning streak. A successful Ashes tour followed in 2001. Martyn scored two centuries, including his first Test century, and two fifties. Having been temporarily curbed by Stephen Fleming, simply by employing three gullies, Martyn had a big summer that included three centuries in four matches against South Africa. Martyn’s average peaked in Feb 2002. He had made just over 1500 runs at 57.26. That is impressive.
It was more than two years until his next century. Martyn was seen to struggle against spin and while he had been consistent over those two years, there were plenty of calls for his demise. After all, five Tests against India and five Tests against Sri Lanka loomed in 2004. More importantly, seven of those matches were on the sub-continent. To his credit, Martyn rose above all expectations and was all conquering. In those seven matches, he scored four centuries (two each against India and Sri Lanka) and a 97. He had a string against India of 104, 114 and 97, narrowly missing out on twin tons in Australia’s historic series clinching victory in Nagpur. In 2004, Martyn scored 1353 runs at 56.38 with six centuries and two scores on 97.
Aside from a match winning 165 against NZ in March 2005, there has been little to celebrate for Martyn since then. In Martyn’s last ten matches he has scored 392 runs at 24.50. The first match of that sequence of 10 was the 2nd Ashes Test last year. That’s pretty ordinary. Someone else can do better. And for Adam Voges of Perth, opportunity knocks! Voges has 1414 runs at 44.18 from 23 first class matches. While he is a good all rounder in List A OD matches, he has taken just 11 first class wickets at 48.72. This year, Voges has started well. He leads the Pura Cup averages, having been dismissed just twice in making 320 runs, including two centuries. Apparently Symonds is also turning up at Perth, but I can’t see that as any more than the selectors refusing to abandon their irrational obsession with all rounders. Symonds has had 10 Tests and averages 19 with the bat and 45 with the ball. Now, if he could just reverse those stats….
England just concluded a two day match with WA. Perhaps it has created some selection headaches – James Anderson performed miles ahead of Mahmood, who was even further ahead of Harmison, who went for 4.71 an over. A couple of things are clear: Panesar should play, as he bowled tidily enough. On the other hand, Giles bowled just 8 overs that went for over 4 runs per over. Read must be a good chance to regain his spot. He scored 59 not out, compared to Jones’ duck! Vaughan is nowhere – he did not bat, even though five wickets fell, following a 188 run opening stand.