New Zealand cricket May 26, 2010

Shane Bond: A purist's delight

From Suhas Cadambi, India

From Suhas Cadambi, India

Shane Bond added a touch of genuine class to a workmanlike side © Getty Images

Why don't you go get him?
I'm his biggest fan
You gotta tell him
He's still the man.
- Calling Elvis by Dire Straits, 1991

Mark Knopfler's lyrics ring true when we attempt to sum up our feelings over the last two years of Shane Bond's career. Through the injuries, the hints at giving up Test cricket altogether, the 'defection' to the ICL, the forsaking of a last chance to have a crack at the Aussies, and the final ride into the sunset, we've found ourselves hoping - time and again - that this wouldn't be the end.

But instead of wondering "what might have been?" once more, those of us who had the pleasure of watching Bond in action can choose to reflect on what a strange, exciting trip it's been.

Where the top players of the decade regularly courted controversy, Shane Bond was one for whom universal admiration seemed to be reserved. He was a purists' delight, generating speed from a lovely, smooth action which belied the stress it inflicted on his body.

He also embodied quite a few attributes of the great fast bowlers of yesteryear; there was the judicious use of the bouncer which was reminiscent of Andy Roberts, there was the ability to swing and cut it both ways - an asset which served the late Malcolm Marshall so well, and there were those yorkers which took one back to Waqar Younis' heyday. My dad likened his approach to the wicket and delivery stride to that of Fred Trueman's, but where Fiery Fred was never short of a word or two for the batsman, 'Bondy' preferred to smile and let the ball do the talking.

He was one of those players whose deeds emptied bars and classrooms alike. I recall a cold December day at college in Bangalore, 2002; we had watched the Kiwi seamers dismantle India's batting on a greener-than-green pitch in Wellington earlier that morning on TV, yet all the excited talk was not of the injustice of having to play on that wicket, but of Bond's ripping, inswinging yorker which proved too good for an in-form Rahul Dravid.

While he did save some of his best efforts for the Indian line-up and Brian Lara, for my money Bond's ability to knock over quality batsmen was never more evident than during his debut ODI series, against the Aussies and South Africans. Aided by Stephen Fleming's astute captaincy, he exposed Ricky Ponting off the front foot, gave Steve Waugh a testing time, memorably yorked Adam Gilchrist, and provided journalists with the line "The name's Bond, Shane Bond, and he likes his Martyns shaken not stirred".

Post-2005, following his return from a two year injury-enforced absence, Bond was a slightly different beast. Fitness issues meant he wasn't quite the all-out destructive force of early 2003; yet, he had added subtle variations and changes of pace to his armoury, and was more accurate than before. His performances on the slow Carribean pitches during the 2007 World Cup - where he took 13 wickets at 16 apiece with an economy rate of 3 an over - showed him to have evolved into a thinking man's bowler.

His final stint with the national side saw an increased reliance on the slower ball and the slower bouncer (especially in T20 games), but every now and then the magic of old would still resurface. Fittingly, a match-winning eight-wicket haul in his final Test against Pakistan last November left us asking for more.

Unfortunately, looking back at Bond's finest moments provides a sobering reminder of New Zealand's place in the scheme of things and their struggle for identity as a cricketing nation. That debut tri-series is now remembered for the axing of the Waugh brothers, if anything, and NZ's three straight victories against the Aussies did little to improve their perceived credibility as a touring side. Bond's 6-23 in the World Cup game in Port Elizabeth was a masterclass in strike bowling, but it was Brett Lee's haul which proved to be the match-winning one. He bowled New Zealand to their first ever series victory in the Caribbean against Lara's side in 2002, but they have never been invited back since.

Still, it can't be denied that New Zealand were a stronger outfit and won more regularly with Bond around, and he gave a workmanlike side a touch of genuine class. Bond probably didn't play enough Test cricket to be regarded as a 'great'. He will likely be remembered in the same manner as Frank Tyson or Lawrence Rowe, cricketers closely tied in with their particular eras, yet much revered by those who got to watch them.

His decision to quit while ahead was an intriguing one; it suggested he might have felt there was more to a cricketing life than seeing out one's days in the IPL. However, this is a sad thing for us because we won't have the consolation of watching him bowl for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Again, our collective thoughts appear to have been echoed in Mark Knopfler's musical account of the fan desperately trying to get through to Elvis Presley: "Don't you think maybe, you could put him on?"

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on May 30, 2010, 20:51 GMT

    we will always miss u.............

  • testli5504537 on May 30, 2010, 11:08 GMT

    I have become the fan of Shane Bond the first time I watched him bowling. He is truely a master-class. A rare mixture of talent and class that we had in this gentleman's game in modern days. I remember calling up my friends and families for the past few months whenever I saw Bond bowling, asking them to watch as it might be one of the last chances you can see a true champion on action. It was always a great pleasure to watch him bowling. I agree with Devarshi, Bond is a Great, pure and simple. And I would like to thank Suhash for this excellent article.

  • testli5504537 on May 30, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    He should honoured as Sir Shane Bond

  • testli5504537 on May 30, 2010, 0:55 GMT

    My name is Bond, Shane Bond. Love him.

  • testli5504537 on May 29, 2010, 4:41 GMT

    he was a sensation when he arrived @ international scene, had speed n seam,sadly injuries held him back, hope he fires for kiwis in 2011 WC, watch out fr kiwis

  • testli5504537 on May 29, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    So good to see someone who admires a master performer. It was a joy to watch Bond in action. Wonder how many kids picked up a cricket ball after watching him.I certainly did.

  • testli5504537 on May 29, 2010, 3:55 GMT

    cleanest action among all the express bowlers of his era. The writing will always remain on the wall, "the name is Bond............. Shane Bond. I am an Indian and I do remember a match, where had Mccullum not dropped a sitter of Dravid, he (Bond)just took away the game from India, but more than a win of my team I remember the match for that yorker which choked Dada and his wide eyes while returning to dressing room told the whole story. we will miss you Bond you were a true entertainer!!!!! you have left big boots to fill...... with all the love and respect!!!!! He may or may not be the best (arguably), but certainly my most favorite bowler just one of your millions of fans.

  • testli5504537 on May 28, 2010, 23:55 GMT

    I simply loved watching this man bowl. He was a simple class. He was among very few bowlers in the current decade who consistently troubled Austrailian line ups. Apart from his beautiful deliveries, his charming personality as well as graceful run up will always be remembered by all those who witnessed cricket during the last decade.

  • testli5504537 on May 28, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    Shane Bond you are the greatest fast bowler I believe ever in the past decade or so! You are just pure talent and get anyone out in the world! Hope you future path is succesful, I'm sure it will be mate

  • testli5504537 on May 28, 2010, 15:44 GMT

    Shane Bond is truely one of a kind.He has that tenacity that we don't see in modern day fast bowler.His breathtaking bouncers and toebreaking yorkers will truely be missed.This world has truely lost a gem and it will be impossible to replace him.I still hope he doesnot go away from cricket.He has to get his levelA certificate in coaching hope he continues cricket in some other manner.Apart from how great a bowler he is,he is also goodlooking.Those blue eyes,that smile that makes a girl go weak on her knees,his soft and tender hair,he will truely be missed.Good luck in the future Bondy!

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