To start with it is sad to see that one of the champion fast bowlers of recent times, Shane Bond has retired from test As a fast bowler he was a thoroughbred and is one of the few cricketers I would pay to watch on a cricket field.
The lion-hearted fast bowler from Canterbury was first spotted by Dayle Hadlee as he made his first class debut in 1997 for Canterbury but early in his career he didn’t had much success as the likes of Shayne O’ Connor, Drum, Tuffey, Penn, Franklin, Chris Martin etc all leapfrogged ahead of him as New Zealand looked for support bowlers to the likes of Nash and Cairns. Actually his cricket career looked to be in jeopardy when he joined the New Zealand’s police force in 1999 and found little time to play first class cricket. He did come back to play first class cricket and made a fine impression in 2000/01 as it seemed like his cricket career was back on track.
For Shane Bond it all changed in 2001/02 when he was selected to play for the A team as he got to play a few tournaments like the Moin ud dwalah trophy in India and the great Sir Richard Hadlee is said to have helped him with his bowling during that time. At that time New Zealand were touring Australia but were hit by injuries to key bowlers like Dion Nash which made New Zealand to go for Shane Bond as he could bowl quick and that perhaps was the reason behind the selectors plumping for Bond. It all didn’t go to plan for Bond as in his first series in Australia he could pick only 3 wickets at 96.33 yet everyone was impressed by his pace and the ability to swing it back sharply. I still remember him troubling none other than the tenacious Steve Waugh himself with those huge inswingers at Hobart as he finally got him lbw. It was a series in which the Kiwis played well and they even came close to winning the series at Perth but only for a couple of decisions being turned down by the Zimbabwean umpire, Ian Robinson. Nevertheless, our man Bond showed in this series that he had lots of potential.
Bond continued to impress everyone as he had a successful time against the hapless Bangladeshis in 2001/02 and after winning that series against Bangladesh, New Zealand returned back to Australia to complete the one day leg of their tour. It was a tri-series played between South Africa, the Kiwis and of course the hosts, Australia. It was in that series in which Bond really made his mark as he took 21 wickets at just 16.38. In his first match itself at Melbourne he troubled the likes of Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Ponting and co. as he took 3 wickets to help the Kiwis defeat Australia in a low scoring match. I still remember his superb spell at Adelaide as well as he took a 5 wicket haul. He bowled with fire on a flat deck and the inswinging yorker he bowled to Gilly was a gem as it swung so late to uproot the stumps of Gilchrist. All Aussie batsmen on a flat deck were running for cover as Bond helped the Black Caps to crush their Trans Tasman rivals by 77 runs. It can be said that Bond was the main factor behind Black Caps reaching the finals of that tournament. He couldn’t repeat the magic in the finals against South Africa as he was hampered by a knee injury but there was no doubting the fact that the Black caps had suddenly unearthed a strike bowler they so desperately needed.
As I briefly said in my last paragraph that he was troubled by a knee problem in the tri-series in Australia and that prevented him from playing against England at home and touring Pakistan in 2002 though after that bomb which exploded near the hotel in which the Black Caps were staying in Pakistan, Bond may have thought to himself that he was lucky to miss the tour of Pakistan and that tour as expected was immediately cancelled because of that bomb explosion. Anyway he came back to play in the Caribbean as Fleming lead the Black Caps to their first ever series triumph over the Caribbean team in a test series in the Caribbean. Stephen Fleming surely has to thank his number one speedster, Shane Bond for that as he took 7 wickets in the first test at Barbados to help NZ script a famous victory. The Black caps were able to draw the second test and hence they were able to win the two test series 1-0. In that series Bond showed his class by troubling none other than the great man, Lara himself.
As 2002 came to an end the Back Caps met India at home and on some spicy wickets the Black Caps were able to easily defeat India in both tests and onedayers. The pitches in that series may have offered too much sideways movement for the quicker bowlers but no one can take away the credit from Bond as he constantly troubled the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dravid with those huge inswingers and the odd delivery that straightened from the righthander. I still remember the cracking inswinger he bowled to Dravid at Wellington in the first test as he found a bit of gap between Dravid’s bat and pad to send the stumps cart-wheeling out of the ground. It has never been easy to find any flaw in Dravid’s technique but Bond with his pace and swing was able to find that gap between Dravid’s bat and pad and the shows his class!
He had a great time in the 2003 world cup as he took 17 wickets at just 17.94. His spell at Port Elizabeth against Australia was a top drawer for sure as he took a 6 wicket haul. The like of Haydos, Gilly, Ponting, Martyn and co. were all at sea against him. It surely looked like the Black Caps would crush the Aussies but again their brittle batting line up was a let down as in the end Australia won quite comfortably. Actually leaving the round robin match against South Africa, the Black Caps’s batting line up just flopped in that tournament as they were ousted at the super six stage itself by India at Centurion. It was a match in which their brittle batting lineup couldn’t stand up to India’s disciplined bowling and though Bond made a few early breakthroughs, Dravid steadied the ship to help India defeat the Black Caps and with that the hopes of Black Caps progressing further in that tournament went up in smoke.
At that time it looked like the Black Caps had last found a bowler who could carry their bowling attack like Hadlee did in 80’s but Shane Bond is a bowler who seems to put lots of pressure on his back and ankle and when the Black Caps toured Lanka in 2003 the disaster struck for Bond as he was diagnosed with a stress fracture on his back. He tried hard to make a successful come back but to no avail as he was sent back home from a tour of England in 2004 as that back problem came back to haunt him. It looked like he may even retire from international cricket but thanks to Hadlee and bio-mechanical experts he made some changes to his action and returned back to play for the Black Caps in Zimbabwe. As expected in the test series against Zimbabwe they had no answer to his accurate quick bowling but he showed his class even against better opponents like India on that tour of Zimbabwe. India was the third team that was taking part in a tri-series in Zimbabwe and they felt the force of Bond in the first match itself at Bulawayo as Bond bowled a fiery spell and took a 6 wicket haul. The Indian team may have thought as to why they only had to face Bond again and again as Bond had tormented the Indian batsmen a lot in 2002/03. As expected with him making a come back in such a grand fashion, the black caps were able to win that tournament. The Black Caps always look so much better with Shane Bond in the side as he is a genuine strike bowler.
He did well at home against both the Caribbean team and the Lankans in 06 and in the tri-series in Australia he troubled both England's team and Australia. He took 11 wickets at just 26.36 in that tri-series. He did take a hat-trick at Hobart against Australia and in the crucial match at Brisbane against England which became a virtual semifinal for both the sides as the winner of that match was going to progress to the finals, Bond made early breakthroughs. I do remember the inswinging Yorker he bowled to send Vaughan’s stumps cart-wheeling and that was the second over of the match. At that time England’s captain, Vaughan was struggling with knee injuries and he would have been cursing his luck that he got such a good delivery. It didn’t help the Black Caps to progress to the finals of that tournament as they were let down by some poor fielding and Fleming though scored a century he took too much time to get it as England narrowly won that crucial match to reach the finals. At that time Bond also bowled some fine spells on the flat wickets of India against champion teams like Pakistan and Australia in the champions trophy. It helped the Black Caps to reach the semifinals. I still remember the slower bouncers that he employed against the Pakistani batsmen in that tournament. It surely took Pakistan’s batsmen by surprise as Bond reaped the rewards. He also helped the Black Caps to crush Australia 3-0 in the Chappell-Hadlee trophy by taking a 5 wicket haul at Wellington.
He had a successful 2007 world cup as he took 13 wickets at just 16.38 to help the Black Caps to reach the semifinals but unfortunately for them, Bond couldn’t make much of an impact against the marauding Lankans in the semifinals as Jayawerdena played a breathtaking knock to crush the Kiwis. Shane Bond in 2007 was already 32 and with his history of injuries and the advent of T/20 may have made Bond to think of newer avenues as he signed for ICL. At that time he had just played for the Black Caps against the South African team in South Africa as he picked up yet another injury but as he had signed for the rebel ICL league, the BCCI and the ICC banned him from playing for New Zealand. I won’t like to again get into this debate of whether that ban on Bond and other international players were right but it was a massive loss for the Black Caps as he was their one and only strike bowler. It looked like Bond may never return to play for the Black Caps but the ICL was scrapped in 2009 as Bond and other players were given amnesty which helped Bond to play for the Black Caps again.
In 2009 when he returned back to play for the Black Caps, it can be said that they had a very inexperienced side. Their inspirational captain, Fleming, Astle, Cairns, Macmillan and co. had retired which made sure that Vettori had too much responsibility on his shoulders as he suddenly became their captain, their main bowler, one of their main batsman and with the sacking of their coach, Moles he took over the role of being the coach for a temporary period of time! So, it was great to see that Bond had come back into their line up as with him in the side, the burden on Vettori was expected to get less. The critics thought that Bond had lost a bit of pace and was not getting too much swing and to an extent they were right as Bond struggled a bit in the recently concluded champions trophy and the one-day series played against Pakistan in the Gulf but Bond is no doubt a class bowler and he showed it once for all as even at the ripe age of 34 he took 8 wickets to help the Black Caps defeat Pakistan at Dunedin the first test. It was great to see Bond again bowling at over 90 miles per hour and troubling all Pakistan’s batsmen including their captain, Yousef with some snorters as he helped the Black Caps to defeat Pakistan but with Bond one can never be sure about his fitness and he again broke down with an abdominal strain. Bond has always come across as a honest man and I have a feeling that he must have thought his injury problems were letting down the Black Caps as he announced his retirement from test cricket on 23rd of December. A sad to end to one of the best fast bowlers in recent times.
Finally he played only in 18 tests but a bowling average of 22.09 and a phenomenal strike rate of 38.7 shows that hew was up there with the best. At his best his run up, action and the amount of sharp swing that he used to get was just a connoisseur’s delight. His ability to bowl quick and send the batsman’s stumps cart-wheeling out of the ground in test cricket would be missed but thankfully he has said that he would still play the shorter versions of the game. It is really sad that at present there aren’t too many genuine quicks going around and with Lee too struggling because of injuries it can be said that only Steyn is the genuine quick left though Roach did show some potential in Australia. Anyway I would like to salute Bond for his services to New Zealand cricket and for bringing joy to millions of cricket fans around the world!