Martyn enjoys Ashes payback
Damien Martyn admitted revenge tasted sweet following Australia’s victory over England in the ICC Champions Trophy.
Having surrendered the Ashes last summer, Australia went some way to atoning for that disappointment at the first time of asking courtesy of a six-wicket win in Jaipur.
Payback was particularly enjoyable for Martyn, who celebrated his 35th birthday by being named man of the match for his classy 78 in Australia’s pursuit of 170 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Twelve months ago Martyn was one of the high-profile casualties of the 2-1 Test series defeat in England, cast aside after averaging less than 20 in five matches.
“We have been waiting for this game for a long time - since we left England,” Martyn said. “We will enjoy it because we have had a lot of bad moments.”
Although England new-ball pair Sajid Mahmood and James Anderson built pressure with three wickets for four runs following a brief interruption caused by floodlight failure, Martyn released it when he struck Steve Harmison’s first three deliveries for four.
He dominated the scoring to such an extent during a fourth-wicket partnership with Mike Hussey, in fact, that the latter had contributed just 18 when their 100-run stand came up.
“There were no plans - it just happened that way,” Martyn said.
“They didn’t bowl very well and when the power plays are on you can get a few away through the field and score quickly and freely.”
Martyn was recalled to the Test side last winter, causing more of a shock than his omission as the team was in the middle of a winning run, and Australia captain Ricky Ponting - one of Mahmood’s two victims - backed Martyn’s cause ahead of next month’s Ashes opener in Brisbane.
“In my eyes he hasn’t been under any pressure whatsoever,” said Ponting. “I see him as a vital player in our team.
“Coming in at number four is a difficult place to bat and we saw how good a player Damien is and how he can win you games yesterday.”
England gained praise for their meticulous planning following the 2005 triumph but here it was Australia who executed their pre-match strategy perfectly.
Five times Ponting’s bowling changes reaped immediate reward as England slumped from 83 without loss to 169 all out, with danger men Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff undone by short-pitched bowling.
Mitchell Johnson, the 24-year-old left-armer who has burst onto the international scene in recent months, forced Pietersen to take evasive action with a lifter and gained a nick next ball, while Flintoff hooked Shane Watson to Mike Hussey at deep square-leg, having earlier been struck on the helmet.
“Someone who can do that in the middle of the innings is crucial for us,” said Ponting. “I guess the bouncer is a little bit under-used in one-day cricket.
“Johnson did it very well to Pietersen and then followed it up with a perfect-length delivery afterwards. It is not about the bouncer but what you follow it up with.”
Watson and Johnson finished with three wickets apiece and the latter may yet force his way into the attack for the Ashes opener in Brisbane, which starts on November 23.
“I know our bowling coach Troy Cooley is pretty excited about what he is seeing,” said Ponting.
“Mitchell is doing everything right. He is performing on the big stage at the moment and getting good players out.
“He got Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar in Malaysia recently and Pietersen here, and they are three of the better players going around.
“I imagine he would be spoken about a lot come selection for the first Test match because he has come along as quickly as he has.”