Test cricket to the wilderness for Bruce Martin
Bruce Martin has gone from a Black Cap to a club hack in the space of 10 months. He talks to Dominion Post sports editor JONATHAN MILLMOW about being part of one of New Zealand's greatest sporting snubs.
Bruce Martin has decided to sit in the boat rather than rock it.
Shown the door by the sport he loves, Martin opened up this week about his treatment from the New Zealand cricket system.
This time last year Martin was the No 1 spinner in the the New Zealand test side. Roll on 12 months and neither New Zealand nor the six provinces want a bar of him.
Martin said he could understand New Zealand overlooking him after a loss of form and confidence in Bangladesh in October but the domestic snub was hard to swallow.
When he was in the New Zealand setup, Martin would have been at the bottom end of sliding retainer pay scale from $181,000 to $73,000, before match fees ($7500 per test) and prizemoney.
When Auckland passed him over on July 22 and the other five provinces followed suit, each allowed to contract 15 players, Martin had effectively slipped outside the top 110 players in the land.
''I saw the New Zealand thing coming because the Bangladesh tour wasn't a great tour for me,'' Martin said.
''But I thought I had a massive part to play in the Auckland team, especially them being a young side.
''I was keen to push on. I'd had a good couple of seasons and I wasn't far off 400 first class wickets.
''I thought by pushing me out they [Auckland] were making room for Bhupinder [Singh], then they got [Tarun] Nethula in, who is about as old  as I am so it's a funny one.
''I'm a bit gutted. It came as a surprise. But it's professional sport .th.th. it comes and goes .th.th. so I can't really complain.''
Martin came to the domestic contract table with ticks and crosses.
On the positive side he had 355 first class wickets under his belt and was motivated to reach 400.
He was also a handy lower order batsman, as evidenced by his 41 on test debut, against England in Dunedin last summer, and two first class centuries.
But age was catching up. He is 34 but has the body of someone much older so was beginning to take short cuts on the training ground that high performance types screw their face up at.
One well placed source added Martin's strong dressing room personality might have put some provinces off.
Martin said he pushed his case hard with Auckland but believes management had already made their mind up.
''I played a bit injured last season in the four-dayers and wasn't as good as I should have been.
''I probably paid for that in the end, so it is what it is.
''My rehab [tendonitis in the knee] was going real well. But they told me 'we don't think your rehab is going very well so we aren't going to contract you'.
''They got me in a meeting. We talked about my goals and they said 'we aren't going to contract you', so it was unexpected.''
Since the domestic contracts were announced on July 22, Martin has split his attention between his hobby of fishing and planning the next chapter of his life.
His mood is friendly and accommodating. The bitterness of his treatment has subsided.
His fiancee has started a project management business and he ''tucked a bit away'' from his time in the Black Caps so there are plenty of reasons to get up in the morning, not to mention heading north to his favourite fishing spot.
Martin plans to join the family's work, health and safety business in Auckland, once he has completed the required courses.
''It looks like a job with a lot of talking and anyone that knows me, knows I'm quite good at that,'' Martin said.
Martin played five tests, three against England at home last summer, one later in the year at Lord's and then the below-par effort against Bangladesh.
He finished with 12 wickets at 53.83 with a best of 4-43 on debut in Dunedin. Had Daniel Vettori not been around he might have played 10 times as many.
''I'm happy with what I did.
''My home debut against England at Dunedin with the family and my fiancee there was really special and I got 41 with the bat.
''And then the Wellington test, that was the coolest thing. It was beautiful sunshine for four days and the crowd was loud and awesome.
''I held my own last summer and I bowled pretty well on the first day at Lord's, but my knee was pretty cooked by then. It had been giving me grief for two seasons.''
Martin may continue with club cricket but has no interest in staking a comeback.
''I came from a club cricketer four years to a Black Cap, so the thought of doing that again from nothing doesn't sit well with me. I thought about it, but it would just prolong things. It is probably time up for me. I've had my fun.
''I've spent 14 years chasing a little bit of leather.
''I look forward to sitting on a boat and having a beer and doing what normal Kiwis do over summer, which will be awesome. Catching some fish and drinking some cold beer.''
The New Zealand Cricket Players Association prides itself on representing current and former players to the best of its ability.
The NZCPA is headed up by chief executive Heath Mills, older brother of Black Cap Kyle Mills.
Heath Mills says the Martin situation was unusual but claims its hands were tied.
''I was surprised no one picked him up'' Mills admitted.
''I've not heard of a situation where a player goes from a New Zealand contract to no domestic contract. Effectively he is being told to transition out of the sport, by virtue of no contract.
''We don't recommend players to other provinces ahead of other members because that is to the detriment of other players. We just make sure the ranking are done according to the criteria.
"That's all I can do. At the end of the day, it is not for us to decide who gets a contract.''
The Dominion Post