Cricket: Elusive test cap finally within reach

For the second time in a couple of months, Kerikeri's Bruce Martin is hoping to end 14 seasons of striving to play test cricket.

The Auckland left-arm spinner is the specialist slow bowler chosen for the opening test against England, to start at Dunedin's University Oval on March 6.

He made his first full New Zealand tour to South Africa last month and just missed selection behind Jeetan Patel for the second test at Port Elizabeth.

Now Patel is gone and that elusive test cap is within reaching distance. The only hiccup might come if New Zealand opt for a four-seamer attack.

Martin was 12th man at 19 against Australia in his first domestic season in 2000. He is among the longest serving first-class players and has changed his style since moving to Auckland for the 2010-11 season. He is more attacking and the spinoff is 94 Plunket Shield wickets at 35 runs each in the last three seasons.

"I was quietly confident. I always felt I had a good chance," Martin said yesterday.

"I've been toiling away, bowling pretty well for those last three years. It's a tough gig bowling spin in New Zealand."

He knows University Oval isn't the most spin friendly pitch around, which means patience is going to be important.

"It is quite a hard ground to bowl on, pretty low and slow. It's a real grind, to be honest."

Whether Martin plays the first two Ford Trophy 50-over rounds, against Canterbury tomorrow and Northern Districts on Thursday, will depend on discussions with New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and Auckland's coach Matt Horne.

"I want to keep the red ball stuff going because it's coming out well. I've bowled God knows how many overs in the last four games and I'm confident with it (red ball).

"It would be nice to chill out a bit, and get mentally and physically right for a full-on battle, which is going to be fun."

Martin's attitude towards tackling the world's number 2 team, armed with top class batsmen such as Kevin Pietersen, captain Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott is overwhelmingly positive.

"I've been waiting for a while now, so I'm going to rip in and give it everything I've got."

- Northern Advocate

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