CRICKET Australia chief executive James Sutherland admits he was as surprised as anybody when Damien Martyn announced his shock retirement from the sport and denied suggestions there was any conspiracy to force him out of the side.
The Western Australia batsman, 35, was under pressure for his place after compiling only 45 runs in three innings during the Ashes series but had been expected to be named in Australia's squad today for next week's third Test at the WACA in Perth.
Sutherland revealed Martyn, 35, had contacted him via text message in the first instance and then the two spoke on the telephone. While he admitted the timing was unusual, Sutherland said he respected the decision and was at pains to emphasise there was nothing going on behind the scenes that prompted the move - starting with Martyn's place in the Australian side.
"I know what the team was for the third Test prior to Damien's announcement. Damien was selected in the team for the third Test in Perth, so I wouldn't want anyone to think that he was dropped because he wasn't," said Sutherland.
"There's no doubt that this is a surprise for all of us, but I really take Damien's decision on face value. Really only he knows (why).
"You can only have more respect for Damien in the circumstances where we're involved in such a high-profile series and he is an integral member of the team for him to make a decision such as this right now.
"Damien is quite a private person, he has chosen not to speak to the media today which we need to respect at this time, but I wouldn't want people to be digging or reading between the lines to suggest any sort of conspiracy.
"He has made a decision based on his feelings and his belief about what is good for him and what is good for Australian cricket."
Sutherland also revealed Martyn had made the decision without consulting any of his teammates - including captain Ricky Ponting.
Pressed on the timing, Sutherland insisted Martyn's decision to retire before playing the third Test on his home deck in Perth made the decision even more laudable.
"It's very easy for us to all say, 'well wouldn't there have been a better time to make a better decision like this?' Before the series started or after the series or what have you," he said. "But for me what sticks out from this is we have a player who has really in his heart of hearts made a decision about the level of motivation and commitment that he has to play the game."
Adam Voges and Andrew Symonds have been called into the Australia squad following Martyn's announcement. Shaun Tait is also out of the squad.
"I'm aware of the tremendous challenges facing Australian cricket, including the current Ashes series," said Martyn in a prepared statement.
"Such challenges require people who are more than 100% committed, dedicated, disciplined and passionate about the game, what it seeks to achieve and how those involved in the game can best serve cricket, sport and the wider community.
"I feel, therefore, it is time for me to move aside. I have enjoyed everything the game has given me - I have gained more from it than I could ever imagine.
"I said to myself when I made this decision that I may lose friends in doing what I'm doing. But I also thought if I stayed around doing what I was doing I may equally lose respect for myself and the friendship of those around me who are entitled to expect from me more than 100%."