Birthday special: Chris Martin – An anomaly in modern day Test cricket

New Zealand’s pace bowler Chris Martin’s career numbers do not suggest anything abnormal. Born in Christchurch, Canterbury on 10th December 1974, Martin represented New Zealand in 97 international matches. A majority of those, 71, were Test matches. The right-arm pacer snared 233 Test wickets and finds himself among the country’s top bowlers. So where’s the anomaly?

Go to the batting section. You will find that in his 13-year long Test career, Martin scored only 123 runs. That is 110 less than the number of wickets he took. Only two bowlers in the history of Test cricket have taken more than 200 Test wickets and have scored more than 200 Test runs – India’s Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (242 wickets and 167 runs) and Chris Martin. The New Zealander also holds the record for the most pairs (out on zero in both innings of a Test) i.e. seven.

The beginning

Coming back to Martin’s primary skills, the pacer made his Test debut against South Africa, Bloemfontein in November 2000. He claimed his maiden five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe in his fourth Test. In the next few years, he went on to become a reliable pace bowler for New Zealand. Relying more on accuracy and seam movement than speed and swing, Martin remained a constant for the Black Caps throughout the decade.

Martin’s best Test match performance was also recorded against South Africa. His spells of 6/76 and 5/104 in 2004, Auckland helped the home side secure a nine-wicket victory. His best innings figures (6/26) were against Zimbabwe in 2012. While he enjoyed the African conditions, he struggled in the subcontinent and in England.

In 2011, Martin was awarded the inaugural Sir Richard Hadlee Medal. In July 2013, he announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. At that time, he was the third-highest Test wicket-taker in New Zealand’s history. He has now slipped to the fifth slot. He also played in 20 ODIs (18 wickets) and 6 T20Is (7 wickets). As Martin turns 47 today, we wish him a very happy birthday.