'I let my performances speak'

G. KRISHNASWAMY

“I have the immense satisfaction of having been a member of two World Cup winning squads,” says Damien Martyn in this interview to V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Damien Martyn was part of the formidable Australian line-up which ruled the cricket world in the last decade. On his day, he was a treat to watch. The ace batsman would caress the ball with elegance and minimum power.

Former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin was a fan of Martyn. “I loved to watch this batsman,” Azhar said once about Martyn. “I am honoured by such a compliment though I never considered myself in the same bracket as Azhar — su ch a wonderful player,” was the modest reply from the Aussie.

Sportstar caught up with the 36-year-old Martyn, who was in Hyderabad recently, playing in the Indian Cricket League.

“I think I played more cricket than anyone expected me to do,” Martyn said. He has played in 67 Tests, scoring 4406 runs with 13 centuries and 23 fifties. He has figured in 208 One-dayers and has made 5346 runs with five centuries and 37 fifties.

“I enjoyed playing cricket and it was a great experience to be a member of such a fine Australian team. I have the immense satisfaction of having been a member of two World Cup winning squads and that 88 not out against India in the 2003 World Cup final in Johannesburg was a memorable moment in my career.

“Well, I essentially concentrated on my game. I always tried to maintain a very low profile and let my performances speak,” says Martyn.

On his retirement: “Once I decided it was the end, I took the bow. No second thoughts on that.” His captain Ricky Ponting was quoted that the team was disappointed for not giving a fitting farewell to Martyn. “Honestly, I never discussed my retirement decision with anyone including Ricky. I quietly left the scene,” he recalled.

The selectors kept Martyn out for six long years after the series against South Africa in 1993.

“I just went back to first-class cricket and thought the only way to be in contention was to keep scoring runs. No doubt, it was a long wait. But I was always confident of coming back,” said Martyn, who had a fabulous run later, scoring 1608 runs between March 2004 and April 2005.

Did Martyn ever consider himself to be captaincy material?

“Oh, no. I never aspired for leadership. By nature, I always enjoyed playing the game with a low profile,” he says.

He had a great series in India, in 2004. His innings of 104 in Chennai, 114 and 97 in Nagpur are still talked about.

“I had a bit of luck. But having been to India earlier I knew how the tracks would behave and I was happy the way I adapted. I think all my team-mates were pumped up to win that series,” he says.

Did the Indians’ aggressive approach on their recent trip Down Under surprise him?

“Frankly no. They are always aggressive but with a difference. They don’t show it off as most of the teams do. And they have always been great fighters from within.”

About India’s good show in Australia: “They won a major one-day tournament after such a long gap. Everyone knows how mad and passionate the fans are in India. And, they have every right to feel great about that result,” he observed.

About Australian cricket: “We will continue to dominate because there is so much reserve. No doubt the spate of retirements could have caused a temporary crisis. But, it will be overcome soon. We play the game the hard way and the youngsters are ready for any challenge.”

Martyn is not really keen on a pro-active role in the Australian cricket set up in the future.

“I am a completely contented cricketer with no regrets on any front," he says.