New Zealand in Zimbabwe 2005 August 4, 2005

Bracewell says Bond is fit and ready

Cricinfo staff

Shane Bond will play his first Test since 2003 © Getty Images

John Bracewell, the New Zealand coach, has said that Shane Bond is fit and ready to take on Zimbabwe in the first Test of the two-match series which starts in Harare on Saturday. "We've placed a few limits on him in training," Bracewell told Reuters. "But he's looking good and, if he gets selected, those limits fall away."

Bond, one of New Zealand's rare genuinely quick bowlers, has not played Test cricket since the tour of Sri Lanka in May 2003. He picked up a second stress fracture in his back on New Zealand's tour of England last summer. Bond bowled in the two one-day warm-up games in Namibia prior to his arrival in Zimbabwe. "He bowled with genuine pace in the warm-up games," Bracewell said. "A fit fast bowler is what you want in any side."

Bond has played only 10 Tests since making his debut against Australia in 2001. He has 43 wickets at 24.30 and provides New Zealand with genuine pace. Accompanying Bond on the return trail is Jacob Oram, who is also returning from injury. Bracewell has the luxury of choosing from a nearly full-strength squad. "We've got what every coach wants in this squad: depth in numbers," he said. "We've come away with our best squad for the past few years."