The anchorman

RAISED in Perth, Western Australia, Damien Richard Martyn has figured a little over 10 years in first class cricket. He has also been a student at the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide. In order to become a successful batsman at the international level, he gave up the captaincy of Western Australia, a major factor responsible in him becoming a reliable middle order batsman. Martyn is a natural strokemaker and he sparkled in the TVS Cup match against India at the Wankhede Stadium.

Usually, Martyn settles in and then goes after the bowlers, just as he showed in his Mumbai knock of 100 in 119 balls with 10 fours and a six.

Australia's line up in one-day internationals starts with a pair of left-handers in Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden followed by the right handers in Ricky Ponting and Martyn. The three who go in before Martyn do not pull their punches. They look for runs all the time, irrespective of the circumstances Australia are in. They generally give a flying start, but there have been many occasions when they have failed and Martyn has been called upon to stem the rot.

A near-perfect stance, a keen pair of eyes and excellent footwork have made Martyn a confident batsman against the fast bowlers. He cuts and pulls, the trademark shot of all Australians. Where Martyn comes out vividly is while defending with a broad face of the bat. He is perhaps one of the best in the business in the Aussie line-up to do the rescue act when needed.

In Mumbai, Martyn played the anchor role after the exit of Hayden, Gilchrist and Ponting. He joined his captain at the fall of Gilchrist off the last ball of the sixth over and departed in the last over of Australia's innings. When he was in the middle, Australia made 227 runs, his personal contribution being 100. After Ajit Agarkar sent back Ponting at 93 off the second ball of the 14th over, Martyn took charge of the proceedings and was always in control till Agarkar bowled him.

Eight of his 11 boundary shots were hit off the spinners — Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh. He cut, drove, swept and once he lifted Kumble wide of mid on beyond the rope.

His swat-back off Zaheer Khan was a stunning shot and the cover drive off Agarkar in the latter's first spell was also hit hard. In the course of his 167-minute tenure, he used caution with aggression and used supple hands to thwart the spinners.