John Wesley Martin - Australian Test Cricketer
From an early age, Johnny Martin displayed outstanding talents as a cricketer, and at the age of seventeen, while playing for Burrell Creek 'A' Grade team he turned in the remarkable performance of fifty-one runs out of a team total of one hundred and nineteen, took seven wickets for thirty-three and seven wickets for eleven, held four catches and ran out an opposing player. In subsequent seasons, outstanding batting, bowling and fielding performances stamped him as a representative player of the future. Consequently, following the 1952-53 season with Burrell Creek when Johnny scored one thousand, three hundred and ninety-five runs at an average of ninety-nine, including five centuries and one double century, and took fifty-five wickets at an average of eleven, he was advised to pit his skills against the top players in the city. The outcome of Johnny's decision to travel to Sydney each weekend, a return trip of eight hundred kilometers, resulted in his inclusion in the New South Wales team and culminated when he was chosen to play for Australia.
For a decade "Johnny Martin" became a household name and his enthusiasm, good sportsmanship and spectacular performances won the hearts of cricket followers around the world. His outstanding all-round performances for New South Wales and Australia at a time when Australian cricket was at a peak and boasting all-rounders of the calibre of Benaud and Davidson, justifies his ranking as one of the truly great all-rounders of Australian and international cricket. It is, of course, not possible to enumerate the many notable achievements of Johnny's distinguished career in this short profile, however, the following statistics are mentioned to vindicate his status as a notable cricketer.
In the seventy-seven Sheffield Shield matches played for New South Wales, Johnny created some interesting statistics. Only one other player till that time had represented his State on more occasions, and in almost one hundred years of Interstate competition only two players had taken more wickets. Johnny captured eight wickets for ninety-seven off thirty-five overs playing for New South Wales against Victoria in the 1962-63 season, the first occasion that a New South Wales player had taken eight wickets in an innings in Shield cricket since the legendary Bill O'Reilly in 1939-40. Johnny took the most wickets for New South Wales in four different seasons between 1959 and 1966, and in the 1957-58 season he averaged 51.75 runs with the bat, second only to Norman O'Neill in the batting averages. In consecutive matches in the 1963-64 season he scored ninety-three not out against South Australia and one hundred and one against Western Australia.
During the 1958 season when he played for South Australia, Johnny established a State record of seven wickets for one hundred and ten runs against the visiting English side. Playing for Colne in the Lancashire League in England in 1961, he achieved the best bowling and batting double for his Club and for all the teams in the League.
Johnny made four overseas tours with the Australian Cricket team, to New Zealand in 1957 and 1960, to England in 1964 and to South Africa in 1867. He made two other tours with Commonwealth teams, to India and South Africa. In his first Test Match, playing against New Zealand, he produced a match winning performance of six wickets for forty-six runs off twenty-two overs. This was in Auckland in 1957.
In 1960, in the Second Test against the talented West Indies team played at Melbourne before a record crowd of 90,000 people, Johnny scored an entertaining fifty-five runs and helped establish a record ninth wicket partnership with Ken "Slasher" McKay. He then dismissed Kanhai, Sobers and Worrell (three of the world's leading batsmen) in only four balls, considered by cricket enthusiasts as one of the most remarkable performances in Test Match history.
During the 1967 tour of South Africa Johnny was joint leading wicket taker with Graham McKenzie, and on two occasions he captured seven wickets in an innings, a feat he accomplished twenty-one times in First Class cricket. On one hundred and eight occasion he took five or more wickets in an innings.
Johnny is credited with hitting one of biggest sixes hit at the Sydney Cricket Ground and it was his positive, happy approach to the game which endeared him to cricket fans all over the world, and won for the nickname of "Little Fave" (the little favourite).
During the Bicentennial Cricket Test against England in Sydney in January, 1988, the Daily Mirror Newspaper presented a special feature each day of famous "Sydney Cricket Ground Sons". Johnny Martin was acclaimed under the heading "Little Fave's Sixes a Hit". In the article, dated Tuesday, 26th January, 1988, it was stated that "Cricketers affectionately called him 'Little Fave' and the S.C.G. patrons he delighted for more than a dozen years would whole heartedly agree that Johnny Martin, the pint sized, googly bowling all rounder, had a reputation as a six hitter extraodinaire, which, if he was playing in these days of the limited over slambang, would have earned him superstar status."
"From Winchelsea to Kelvin Grove: A Martin Family History 150 Years in Australia" 1838-1988 Published by Classic Printers, Taree. NSW. Australia,
JUSTICES OF THE PEACE. - New Appointments.
Dickinson, Rita Iris, Burrell Creek. Martin, John Wesley, Burrell Creek. Martin, Samuel, Burrell Creek. Martin, Ronald, Taree. (Rita, John, & Ronald all Martin Siblings along with their father Samuel), (Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer (NSW : 1898 - 1954), Tuesday 1 December 1953, page 2)
Johnny Martin Oval named
CRICKET royalty descended on Taree on Wednesday, January 11, 1989 when the Johnny Martin Oval at Taree Park was officially named.
This coincided with a Tooheys Cup match between Taree and Port Macquarie that featured future Australian captain Mark Taylor, test allrounder Greg Matthews and State skipper Greg Dyer. However, a golden oldies match featuring some of Johnny Martin's contemporaries was also organised to mark the occasion. Alan Davidson, Brian Booth Ian Craig and John Benaud were among those who took part in teams skippered by Martin and Doug Walters.
It was a big week for Martin the Manning's only test cricket representative as he was feted at a testimonial dinner the night before naming of the oval.
"I've scored tries, taken wickets and scored centuries on this oval, he said before a big crowd at the naming ceremony.
"But I've never felt so much emotion walking on to a cricket field as today. I cannot thank the people of the Manning and from further afield enough.
"I also thank Ald Ray Green for the initial thought of naming this oval and the unanimous support of council.
Council adopted a mayoral minute from the then mayor, Ald Ray Green, in January 1988 to name the oval in John Martin's honour, Mick McDonald reported.
"Johnny Martin is a worthy son of the Manning, Ald Green told the crowd at the naming.
Mayor Ald Ralph Metcalfe said Martin's outstanding achievements in cricket remains on of the keys to fostering the game among young people in this area.
Then in his late 50s, Martin was still playing in the Manning B-grade competition with Burrell Creek. (Manning River Times, December 18 2013).
Johnny Martin Career statistics
Batting Style Left-hand bat Bowling Style Chinaman
Test Debut Australia v West Indies at Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, December 30, 1960
Last Test South Africa v Australia at St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, February 24, 1967.
One of the last of a now all but extinct breed, Johnny Martin bowled unorthodox low left-arm in eight Tests for Australia during the 1960s, and was, when his aggressive batting was taken into account, as great an entertainment package as almost any cricketer to come out of NSW. Small and unceasingly chirpy, he grew up on the central coast, near Taree, one of 10 children of the manager of Burrell Creek's post office and general store, which Johnny himself ended up managing. He died on July 15 after a heart attack, having survived one 20 years earlier, and had bypass surgery in 1984. He was 60.
Born in Wingham of July 28, 1931, John Wesley Martin (whose mother was related to 1890s Surrey and England fast bowler Tom Richardson) first went down to Sydney at 15, and saw Bradman and Barnes score 234 each against England in December 1946. His imagination was fired. Over the next few years his local reputation spread, and in 1953-54 he joined Sydney grade club Petersham, catching the overnight train to the match each Saturday and returning home that evening. Buzzing his curving chinaman (googly), appealing alternately softly and urgently, bustling quickly back for the next one, and batting with great vigour (he hit 166 sixes for his grade club), Martin was eventually chosen for NSW in 1956-57. A promising Rugby League career was shelved.
He was to play through to 1967-68, trying his luck in one season ( 1958-59) with South Australia, for whom he took 7 for 110 against Peter May's MCC side without earning Test selection. Lindsay Kline, the Victorian of similar style, was preferred. He had toured New Zealand with the young 1956-57 Australian (non-Test) side, returning there three years later, again under Ian Craig's captaincy, and in . 1961 his travels were extended with a season at Colne, in Lancashire, where he took 70 wickets at 12 and hit 706 runs at 35. By now he had become a Test cricketer, having played in three of the exciting 1960-61 Tests against West Indies (and substituted in the field in the tied Test at Brisbane), his first, at Melbourne, being the 500th Test match, and bringing him poignantly what were to remain best batting and bowling performances in an eight-Test career. Going in at No. 10, he raced to 55 off the bowling of Hall, Watson, Worrell (whom he hit for six) and Ramadhin, before Valentine bowled him as he went for another big hit. He and MacKay put on 97 in 72 minutes, extending Australia's total to 348, which proved enough for a seven-wicket victory after West Indies failed to avoid the follow-on.
Martin's greatest achievement came in West Indies' second innings. They were 97 for 2, still 70 behind, when he bagged three of the most illustrious wickets Test cricket has ever had on offer in the space of only four balls. Kanhai made a mess of an attempted pull and was caught; resuming next over, Martin found the edge as a languid Sobers propped forward, to be caught by Simpson at slip; and after playing the hat-trick ball, Worrell was also caught by Simpson, completing a `pair'. These were the only wickets Martin took in the match, but his allround contributions would probably have earned him the Man of the Match award had such been on offer in those days.
He failed to take a wicket at Sydney in the next Test, and helped Gibbs to a reciprocal three wickets in four balls by falling to the first he received. Dropped for the Adelaide Test, he returned for the final contest, at Melbourne, where 90,800 attended on the second day, and though he did little of note, he was with MacKay at the end as Australia scraped in by two wickets.
`Little Fav' (he seemed everybody's favourite, with his bouncy, cheerful disposition) had to wait three years before his next Test appearance, though he continued to bamboozle many a batsman in domestic cricket. In 1962-63 he took a career-best 8 for 97 for NSW v Victoria at Sydney. Next season, when he made his sole first-class century (101 against WA at Perth), he played in the Second Test against South Africa, at Melbourne, and took four wickets. Disappointment at further omission was offset by selection to tour England in 1964, though he played in none of the Tests, and was troubled by a recurring shoulder injury. His 35 tour wickets came at 32.40, and he averaged 19 with the bat, his top-score 70 coming at Taunton.
Martin played in two Tests in India and one in Pakistan on the way home, in front of massive crowds, picking up eight further wickets and playing a few useful tailend innings; but there was only one Test appearance to come, and that was at Port Elizabeth on the 1966-67 tour, the final Test, after Martin had taken 11 wickets in the Griqualand West match and six in the South African XI match at Pietermaritzburg preceding the Test. A duck (his third in Tests) and 20, and no wickets in 22 overs came as a muted farewell, even if all in attendance had Graeme Pollock's three-hour century to remember the match by.
Johnny Martin, the ideal tourist, had gone on the Cavaliers' tour of India and South Africa in 1962-63. When he retired in 1968, he had spun out 445 batsmen at 31.17, 17 times taking five or more wickets in an innings. His 17 Test wickets had cost almost 50 apiece, though he had not been an extravagance, conceding no more than 2.7 runs per six-ball over. His 3970 - mainly breezy - first-class runs had come at 23.77. So much for figures. He was one of cricket's precious characters, whose skill was rare and whose attitude was just what the game has always needed. David Frith, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/6509.html
"From Winchelsea to Kelvin Grove: A Martin Family History 150 Years in Australia" 1838-1988. Published by Classic Printer. Taree, NSW, Australia.
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