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Chris Martin appeals unsuccessfully for an lbw, New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington, 2nd day, March 24, 2012

Only one New Zealand fast bowler – Richard Hadlee – has played more Test matches, or taken more Test wickets than Chris Martin. That, in a nutshell, captures the value that Martin offered to New Zealand cricket for more than a decade. Chris Cairns and Danny Morrison were more high-profile players (and Cairns obviously offered a lot with the bat as well), but neither played as many Tests: Cairns took 218 wickets in 62 matches, while Morrison played 48 Tests for his 160 wickets. And then there was Martin’s No.11 batting, which became legendary for its ineptness: in 104 innings he scored 123 runs, with only one innings in which he touched double-digits. Of the 52 times he was dismissed, 36 were for ducks, the second-highest in Test history; apart from this, he was also not out on zero 28 times, ten more than the second-best.

He’ll arguably be remembered by fans more for his batting than his bowling, but for the team the consistency and control he brought with his bowling was a huge asset. There were the odd blips in his career when he lost his swing and his incisiveness, but for the most part he was New Zealand’s go-to seamer over the last decade.

Martin started his Test career in style, taking 11 wickets against South Africa – his favourite opponents – at an average of 26, but then followed a few ordinary performances, including three successive series against England and Australia when his bowling average was more than 50. (Click here for Martin’s series-wise bowling stats.) After 21 Tests, his bowling average was almost 38, though that was also the period when he produced his best match figures – 11 for 180 against South Africa in Auckland, in a series in which he took 18 wickets in two Tests.

Then came the period when he sustained his high level over a much longer time: over the next three years, he took 71 wickets in 19 Tests at an average of less than 28. Thereafter, he never regained that level, though he was reasonably consistent. In his last Test, quite fittingly against South Africa, he took 3 for 63 in 19.2