Saturday, December 09, 2006

Goodbye, tall fellow

It is true. No more do we get to admire telling blows on bowling figures and bowlers’ confidences as if they were brush strokes from Da Vinci. Damien Martyn has decided to call it a day in the midst of the ongoing Ashes.

Over his stop-start-stopagain-startagain career cricket lovers like us have done much disservice to his calibre by letting him remain in the shadows of many he should have towered above. I intend not to pile it up further by discussing the reasons of his sudden departure. Let us share his glory, for once.

Australian players present and past have
offered glowing tributes to the departing Damien Martyn. The two I liked the most are:

Ian Chappell: "I hope he is remembered fondly. At times he's been a damn good player and I hope that is how Australian cricket remembers him - a damn good player who was easy on the eye."

Ricky Ponting:
"He is one of the world's most unsung players in both forms of the game and I don't think it is really understood how good a player he actually is."

Indeed Ricky. When we look at Damien’s career in retrospect, too many of his great moments have somehow been overshadowed by the glare of another. His phenomenal tour of India in 2004-05 aptly reflects that anomaly.

Despite a lead of 1-0 his team was rather precariously poised at the end of the 3rd day of the 2nd Test and India could well have restored parity with a day to spare. Martyn ensured that the match went into an eventually rain-washed 5th day. That heroic effort with Gillespie ensured a draw. It was the 3rd time in 4 subcontinent Tests that Australia had depended on Martyn for not losing inspite of conceding a 100+ lead. That draw was decisive; it ultimately led to the Aussies’ conquest of their final frontier. And yet after that rain affected 5th day all that we cared to remember were the 3 boundaries Sehwag hit off McGrath to end the 4th evening.

It was much the same with the next match at Nagpur where Indian skipper Sourav sitting out in protest and a home association preparing an ‘away’ pitch made more news than Martyn’s match-winning batting.

In an earlier post I, having nothing better to post obviously, had wondered about Martyn’s physical height. Amit Varma summed it up just right when he observed:

“(W)hen he leans into one of those languid drives of his, he's 10 feet tall. Or more.”

In his glorious cricket, his unassuming manner, his silent achievements and in never scoring a Test double hundred Damien Martyn has ever so often represented the man he succeeded in the Australian side, Mark Waugh. Now Junior must be flashing a ‘been there done that’ smile as Martyn bids an all-too-familiar adieu.

A few other articles on the classy Australian batsman’s enchanting strokeplay, his statistics and his best innings can be found here, here and here.
Update: Saw a nice comment from a cricinfo reader on Gideon Haigh’s charming post on Martyn:

(T)he song "return to innocence" by enigma is what best captures (D)amien (M)artyn walking to the crease, unfurling those beautiful strokes irrespective of whether australia were in front or behind and making getting out look like an injustice.

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