December 23, 2009

Spectacular but all too brief

Shane Bond only played 18 Tests, but he still managed to conjure several matchwinning moments for New Zealand

And so the body finally gave up on him. After battling injuries almost relentlessly through a decade, Shane Bond has finally decided that Test cricket is too much strain for him, and New Zealand are without a strike bowler yet again.

Bond in full flight was an utterly spectacular sight, which makes it doubly sad that the cricket world has seen so little of him, especially in a form of the game that allows him to attack without fear. It's almost unfair that his decision means he'll continue to play in formats which will curb those attacking instincts and force him to bowl defensive lines to defensive fields with the onus on saving runs.

The series which stands out for me in a brief Test career was the one against India at home in 2002-03. Admittedly conditions were tailormade for seam and swing, and none of the batsmen got runs consistently, but the manner in which Bond prized out India's much-vaunted batting line-up made for superb viewing. The second innings of the Wellington Test was the most memorable, when he removed Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar with high-class seam and swing to win the match for New Zealand. That series remains his most successful against the top teams.

The stat that best sums up Bond's effect in the New Zealand team is the team's results in matches in which he played and in the ones he didn't. The difference, it turns out, is huge. In the 18 Tests he played, New Zealand won ten (though four of those were against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). They lost only twice, to Sri Lanka and South Africa. During the period since Bond's Test debut, they played 49 times without him, and managed to win only ten, and lost 24. New Zealand's bowling average was ten runs lower, and their strike rate was 20 balls better, when Bond was in the line-up.

New Zealand with and without Shane Bond since his debut
  Tests Won Lost Drawn Bowling ave Strike rate
With Bond 18 10 2 6 26.71 51.6
Without Bond 49 10 24 15 36.51 71.1

It's also interesting to see the effect that Bond had on his bowling mates. Among the specialist bowlers, it seems Bond's absence effected Daniel Vettori and Daryl Tuffey more than the others - Vettori's average went up from 24 to 37 in Tests when Bond didn't play, which indicates the pressure he put on batsmen helped the others bowlers too. Similarly, Tuffey averaged 21 when he played with Bond, and 32 when Bond wasn't around.

NZ bowlers in Tests with and without Bond
Bowler With Bond - Tests Wkts Ave W/O Bond - Tests Wkts Ave
Daniel Vettori 18 62 24.74 46 144 37.11
Chris Martin 10 29 31.72 36 119 35.37
Jacob Oram 7 20 19.25 26 40 39.95
Chris Cairns 4 17 25.82 8 24 33.37
Daryl Tuffey 6 17 21.35 12 38 32.28
James Franklin 6 13 35.76 18 60 33.28

Another stat that demonstrates his match-winning ability is the number of Man-of-the-Match awards he has won - is just 18 matches he won the award four times, including, quite fittingly, in what turned out to be his last Test. (Which makes a good quiz question - how many players have won the match award in their last Test? I don't the answer myself, but will try and find out. In the meantime, do send in your answers.)

I wish he'd played more Tests against Australia and improved his record against them - in two Tests he averaged 96.33, but those were his first two Tests, so he deserves some slack (and he bowled better than those figures suggest).

He enjoyed his matches against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - as did most bowlers - but even after removing his games against them, his stats still look good - an average of 26.22, with a wicket every 43.6 balls. For New Zealand's sake, here's hoping they find a like-for-like replacement soon.

Bond against B'desh, Zim and the rest
Opposition Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
B'desh & Zim 4 24 11.25 25.7 1/ 1
Other teams 14 63 26.22 43.6 4/ 0
Career 18 87 22.09 38.7 5/ 1

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on July 4, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    I read somebody's comment saying that Zaheer Khan has more wickets per match than Bond.That was the funniest joke i had heard in some time.Bond has 87 wickets from 18 matches.Zaheer has 278 wickets from 79 matches.So Bond has 4.83 wickets per match while zaheer has around 3.7 per match.Only Steyn,Flintoff and Murali were as good as Bond in his last years..

  • testli5504537 on December 31, 2009, 21:55 GMT

    Genial fill someone in on and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Gratefulness you for your information.

  • testli5504537 on December 30, 2009, 5:03 GMT

    Pity he never had the chance to deliver his full potential. His action was classic and his intensity was superb. NZ has lost one of its best and cricket is poorer.

  • testli5504537 on December 27, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    Shane Bond is a gr8 fighter and will always be remembered for serving NZ Cricket so well...He could be as fast as Shoaib or Lee and also much penetrative as Mcgrath and Akram..Hope he continues to play ODIs and T20 ...

  • testli5504537 on December 25, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    Shane bond to me was the only fast bowler of this decade who could be compared with the great fast bowlers of the 80s and 90s, the rest which includes brett lee and makhaya ntini, despite of having more than 300 wkts are no where close, which can be seen in their bowling average and strike rates.

  • testli5504537 on December 25, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    @Tom & Daniel- The stat on Vettori's bowling average improving with Bond around should be hint as to what he acheived for the team, the others shouldn't really be noted as they weren't involved in all his 18 tests. If you are wondering about the comparative performances consider this; Bond was not bowling at the NZ team which has essentially been cannon fodder for other international teams, the fact that Pedro Collins averaged better in games when they went head to head should be an indicator. The fabled 'green tops' that tend to come to mind only really existed for that one Indian series.

  • testli5504537 on December 25, 2009, 6:12 GMT

    Bond's pace and hostility would make Andy Roberts proud. His 6 for 22 against the mighty Aussies at the 2003 world cup was one of the most devastating display of fast bowling ever seen in the 21st century. He single handedly ripped that vaunted, championship calibre top order to shreds. Greatness speaks for itself.

  • testli5504537 on December 25, 2009, 4:58 GMT

    Unfortunately the injuries prevented him from having the longetivity that would have had him rated as one of the all-time bowling greats. But there's little doubt in my mind Bond is the best bowler NZ has produced since Hadlee, and he's one of the best opening bowlers of the decade - no question. The hold he seemed to have over (at that time) the all conquering Aussies was a joy to watch. I take some comfort that at least we'll still be able to see him the shortened version.

  • testli5504537 on December 25, 2009, 4:08 GMT

    If I were to select a batsman who was as promising as Bond as a bowler but had a rather short career, it has to be Vinod Kambli. Kambli did complete 1000 runs and it would've been great to see Bond take at least 100 wickets. Would be interesting to see how many man of the match awards Bond won. Also, did he win any man of the series awards?

    Ananth, I was wondering if we're allowed to post on articles dating back 6 months. I wanted to post in the June article on best batsmen, but it seems you didn't publish my post. It would be great to have an update on that article.

    Also, any timeline on the best individual test innings article(Laxmans 281, Lara's 153 etc.) which you once promised? I am eagerly waiting for this article but I can certainly understand you're always busy.

  • testli5504537 on December 25, 2009, 3:12 GMT

    I would have liked him to quit limited overs cricket and continue test cricket because its in the test cricket that the true character of a great bowler like Bond is revealed. In other forms of cricket any body can claim wickets.We see bowlers like Ganguly,Bevan and Symonds taking wickets in limited overs cricket. They didn't even get a regular bowl in test matches

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