Damien Martyn, who was often unpredictable with the bat, has made a surprising call by announcing his retirement from both international and domestic cricket. Martyn's place was under heavy scrutiny after the second Test in Adelaide, but he took control of his future by informing Cricket Australia of his decision today with immediate effect.
Martyn, 35, said the current Ashes campaign, which Australia lead 2-0, needed people who were "more than 100% committed". "I said to myself when I made this decision in the last 48 hours that I may lose friends in doing what I'm doing," he said in a statement. "But I also said to myself that if I stayed doing what I was doing I may equally lose respect for myself and the friendship of those around me."
After a disappointing start to the series with scores of 29, 11 and 5, Martyn was expected to earn a reprieve for a home-ground appearance in Perth when Shane Watson failed to recover from a hamstring injury. However, Australia's desire to add to the bowling attack appears to have signalled the end for Martyn and it would not be a surprise if Andrew Symonds was selected in the squad today.
Ricky Ponting said Martyn thought "long and hard" about the decision and the team would miss him. "Damien 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 he actually is," Ponting said. "In recent times he won the Test in Johannesburg off his own bat and played a huge role in Australia claiming the Champions Trophy for the first time.
"He is one of those players who, as the conditions and situations got harder and more difficult, the better he became. Some of his innings in Sri Lanka and India on turning pitches proved his class and I know I will miss his influence on the Australian team."
During the Adelaide Test Ponting spoke about how important Martyn was to the side and felt criticism of the batsman was unwarranted. Martyn was demoted to No. 5 for the successful second-innings chase in Adelaide and was out when he stepped away and glided to gully in a bid to maintain a high run-rate.
Martyn played 67 Tests in a 14-year career, scoring 4406 runs at 46.37, and he was also involved in 208 one-day internationals. He made his debut as a gifted 21-year-old against West Indies in 1992-93 and played in three series before being blamed for Australia's tight loss to South Africa at the SCG the next season. Six years later he was recalled for a tour of New Zealand and developed into one of Australia's most attractive and dependable batsmen.
His greatest year came in 2004 when he grabbed six centuries and was the standout player during important series victories in Sri Lanka and India, where Australia won for the first time in 35 years. Dropped after the 2005 Ashes, when he suffered a couple of poor umpiring decisions, he came back for the tour of South Africa and picked up a match-winning hundred in the final Test, but he was unable to re-find his form during the current campaign.
Martyn, who was married in the off-season, has usually tried to avoid the spotlight and is travelling today. "I'm aware of the tremendous challenges facing Australian cricket, including this current Ashes series," he said. "Such challenges require people who are more than 100% committed, dedicated, disciplined and passionate about the game, what it seeks to achieve and how those involved in the game can best serve cricket.
"I feel, therefore, it's time for me to move aside. I have enjoyed everything the game has given me. I have gained from it more than I could have ever imagined."
Damien Martyn's top performances
Five of the best
December 8, 2006
Damien Martyn rated his centuries in India and Sri Lanka during 2004 as the best of his career. Here are five of his most impressive efforts from his 67 Tests
110 v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Galle, March 2004
In danger of losing his Test spot on a surface as unfamiliar as a snow field, Martyn calmly resists the pressure of Muttiah Muralitharan as he scores his first century in two years. "Emerging from a bad patch," Wisden Australia reported, "Martyn reasserted his right to bat at second wicket down with a methodical display." The ball was spinning wickedly, it was so hot and humid that umbrellas and seats accompanied the drinks, and Australia began their second innings 161 behind. Martyn turned up with Australia 14 ahead and stayed for almost five-and-a-half hours, sharing a 70-run stand with Matthew Hayden before the crucial partnership of 206 with Darren Lehmann decided the result.
104 v India, 2nd Test, Chennai, October 2004
India prepare to level the series 1-1 when Martyn and Jason Gillespie unite at 145 for 4 with a lead of four late on the third day. Playing as far back as possible and waiting for bowling lapses to pull or sweep, Martyn performs as comfortably as any Westerner could hope to in sauna-like conditions, and regained control with Gillespie, the nightwatchman, in a 139-run collection that pushed Australia ahead. Reprieved by a dropped caught-behind on zero, Martyn's punishment lasted 210 balls and he was so confident that he allowed himself the rare extravagance of a six off Anil Kumble to bring up his century. Not even the fifth-day rain could dampen Martyn's performance.
114 & 97 v India, 3rd Test, Nagpur, October 2004
He misses the chance to be the first Australian since Don Bradman to score three centuries in consecutive innings, but seals the Man-of-the-Series award with a brilliant double. Wisden calls Act 1 "a handsome century" while he was "elegant" in the second. On a greener wicket, he showed he could re-adapt and cut and drove with aesthetic ease in a 165-ball innings of 16 fours. Knowing runs from the tail were used up in the previous Test, he made sure of another impressive contribution alongside Lehmann and Michael Clarke, before the second-innings near-miss batted India out of the game and the series.
165 v New Zealand, 2nd Test, March 2005, Wellington
A most un-Martyn-like start in damp conditions suited to seam as he swings, misses and French cuts twice in the early stages. However, the tea break brings a dramatic transformation on the way to a career-high score. Breezing 82 in the final session, Martyn reached his fifth century away from Australia in 13 months as his second fifty came in 68 balls. Drives, pulls, flicks and glances decorated the innings and he woke up in the same mood the following day. If Gilchrist had not smashed 162 from 146 balls it would have been a high-profile treasure.
101 v South Africa, 3rd Test, March/April 2006, Johannesburg
Six innings into his recall Martyn hadn't justified his spot, but when Australia need him most he steps in with his cape. Australia were cruising towards their target of 292 when they lost 4 for 39, but Martyn was the glue. He set up the side with an impressive 101 from 208 balls before Michael Kasprowicz and Brett Lee sealed the victory for a 3-0 result. Under extreme pressure Martyn rewarded the selectors for relying on his experience. It was his 13th and final Test century.