Martin's significant evolution

TEXACO TROPHY: Fast bowler makes the most of his luck to claim man of the match award on his first appearance for England
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Peter Martin appeared afterwards clutching his champagne as the man of the match, proud of his 4 for 44, the best debut performance by an England bowler in one-day competition.

"I didn't know I was playing until 9.45 so I didn't have time to get nervous. When I was bowling to Brian Lara I was trying to keep on line and swing the ball. He went to drive, it moved a little and that was it.

"I've probably been an under-acheiver for much of my career. Malcolm Marshall advised me to hit the pitch and let the ball do the work."

He won praise from Richie Richardson. "He put the ball in the right place, did a little bit and was deservedly rewarded," the West Indies captain said.

It must be 10 years now since Doug Padgett, Yorkshire's coach, told me with that knowing air he has when a rough diamond turns up: "I think we've found a fast bowler."

Doug thought his name was Martin: "Big, strong, fair lad, from Doncaster. He's played for Yorkshire Schools. I was all set to bring him up to Headingley for trials." He paused then, savouring the denouement: "I asked him where he was born". Another pause. "Accrington". My next question was inevitable: "Do they know about him at Old Trafford ?"

"Aye," Doug replied, sadly. "I told them".

So mortified were Yorkshire by the loss of young Martin that when a similar situation arose a few years later over Michael Vaughan (born in Eccles) they dropped a century-old tradition of insisting that Yorkshire players had to be Yorkshire-born.

Lancashire in turn must take all the credit for applying the polish and keeping faith. In his first few summers Martin was barely fast-medium and overweight.

It is not entirely coincidental that his surge in form and fitness came when he was no longer the only potential England fast bowler on the Lancashire staff. The arrival of the fast-rising Glen Chapple meant that Martin's position as the No 3 quick (after Wasim Akram and Phillip DeFreitas) was in danger.

Daffy's departure opened another vacancy at exactly the right time for if Lancashire had embarked on a sudden round of cost-cutting, which happens to every county club from time to time, Martin might have been sacrificed to keep Chapple.

He had two further strokes of luck. By chance he happened to bowl well this early season in three matches watched - not for Martin - by the chairman of selectors Ray Illingworth. Then Chapple, the hot favourite for the first England vacancy, asked not to be considered because he had a slight knee twinge and did not feel 100 percent.

Nor is he just a professional cricketer. He shows considerable artistic talent. Could he become the first fast bowler to be hung in the Royal Academy?

Paul Allott, his former England and Lancashire colleague, grins: "I don't think he aspires that far but he's good enough to have a painting of the Old Trafford pavilion, and sketches of Lancashire players, sold in the shop. I don't think he's in the Jack Russell class yet but he's only started a couple of years ago".

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