Shane Bond

'I love Test cricket, but I'm also a realist'

Shane Bond explains his retirement from long-form cricket, and talks about New Zealand's talent pool, his likely successors, and his plans for the future

Interview by Nagraj Gollapudi

May 11, 2010

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Shane Bond runs in to bowl, Christchurch, January 20, 2010
"I realised every time I played four- or five-day cricket, I broke if I played few games on the bounce. It is just the way I played" © Getty Images

New Zealand have always been a promising side but have failed to be in the top bracket. Why do you think they remain on the fringes?
We have always been a competitive one-day side. In Test cricket we seem to struggle to put big runs on the board consistently for two innings. We have always bowled pretty well but it is the runs factor in the last few years that has us a little bit inconsistent in Test cricket. The other factor is, we have lost players through the years to injuries, and because we don't have the depth, it hits us harder than some other teams.

Could it also be because cricket is not the primary sport in New Zealand, and the long shadow of rugby probably hurts the development of players?
Look, cricket is the No. 2 sport. Previously there were a lot of rugby players who were good cricket players as well, so they had to make a choice. But with the IPL around, there is a real career in cricket, so that may change in the future. It comes in waves. Early in the 2000s we climbed to No. 3 in Test rankings, when we had an experienced team mixed with some good young players. At the moment we are sort of more an inexperienced team. But hopefully in the next five years we can push our way back up.

What about the money? Is it appealing enough for a youngster to think of cricket as a future career?
It is definitely not about the money. It is just pure numbers. Cricket is still a hugely popular game, but we have so few players that we are not going to have a massive amount of outstanding players come through. But we still are a very talented side. We just lack that ability to play at the top level: mainly, in first-class cricket we just don't get to face good fast bowling or we are not exposed to guys like Murali [Mutiah Muralitharan] or Harbhajan [Singh]. So when you make the step up to Test cricket, all of a sudden you are exposed to that sort of bowling and it takes our players a little bit of time to adjust. It will take at least two or three years of playing Tests for them to feel comfortable to face that level of bowling.

Do you think New Zealand cricket is being marginalised by the higher powers?
I don't think so. If we are not playing good Test cricket then people are not going to come to watch us. So it is up to us as a team to perform, and if we beat teams then people will come. It is harder for us because our season is limited by our weather. We spend a lot of time training indoors, and we don't get outdoors till late [in the season], which makes it bloody tough for our players. And our season is limited, where we have about four months to play at home. So I don't think we are being marginalised. It is just a product where people want to see just the best teams play the best teams and we are not one of the best teams in Tests at the moment.

Teams still take us seriously, but I can't say for certain a particular timeframe. We have some definite talent there in [Ross] Taylor, [Martin] Guptill. Obviously [Daniel] Vettori is such a key player and we can't afford to lose him. There is a lot on his shoulders, so it is going to be tough.

Is there too much on his plate? He is the captain, a virtual coach, and the best player in the team.
Mark Greatbatch's inclusion as a coach has relieved him somewhat. But that is what Dan wants to do - to lead from the front and set an example, which is what he does on and off the field. I hope he doesn't put too much on his shoulders, but he seems to be handling it okay at the moment. He is such a good player, but I still worry about him.

You mentioned a couple of young talents already. Who are the other players who are in a position to step up and share the leadership with Vettori?
Those two, and [Brendon] McCullum is obviously a senior player now. Our bowling is little bit thin and [Tim] Southee is our biggest talent. We forget he is only 21 and already has ups and downs, but I definitely like the attitude with which he plays. There is going to be a lot put on his shoulders in the next two years. You still might not see the best of him for another four or five years, but his skills and attitude make him a fine player. Then we have got Kane Williamson, who is a seriously talented batsman. Hopefully these guys will get the opportunities.

Apart from Southee, who do you think is ready to be your successor?
There aren't many quick bowlers coming around. There are a couple of guys in our Under-19 team who are good, but again, I don't think bowlers come into their prime till they are 24-25. We are a little bit thin on fast bowlers and don't have an out-and-out fast bowler in domestic cricket, except Andy McKay.

"If New Zealand are not playing good Test cricket then people are not going to come to watch us. So it is up to us as a team to perform, and if we beat teams then people will come"

Do you see yourself moving into a mentor's role to look after the young bowlers?
That is my plan, to move into coaching once I finish playing. I have got to get my Level 3 coaching certificate, and that is where I see myself - assisting the young guys at the domestic level.

How difficult was it to retire from Test cricket?
It was tough. I love Test cricket and always felt I was a Test bowler first and foremost. Test cricket is about getting people out and that's what I do: I got people out. A lot of goals I wanted to achieve were built around Test cricket, but I am also a realist. I realised every time I played four- or five-day cricket, I broke if I played few games on the bounce. It is just the way I played: I find it difficult to hold back. I just go hard. It hurt me. But I wanted to keep playing. I have had enough injuries. I am sick and tired of being in rehab, and if I did that one more time I would've been probably finished. I wanted to finish playing rather than get injured and fall by the side.

Did you ever keep count of the injuries?
No. Because I know how many times I've had to come back and do the hard work to get back on the park. The most frustrating thing was, a lot of times I've thought: "This is it, I am going to go on a real good run here" and I have got back to playing my absolute best cricket and then there has been an injury.

What advice would you give youngsters coming out of injury?
You have to manage yourself well. I still see it now when I play with guys who are injured and they want to be back for a game that is, say, six weeks down the line. You've just got to come back when you are fully fit. Too many people - and I have made the mistake in the past - sometimes rush back to make a tour or a series even when they are not a 100% fit. You are better off taking it step by step; do your rehab properly, get yourself back in the condition you need to be in, build your bowling up, and then get ready at the right time.

Are you saying you made that mistake yourself? Can you give us an example?
I was coming from a back injury - I had fractured it twice - to the England tour in 2004. Even if I had done the rehab, I had played only one game before the tour, bowling just 10 overs. Once in England, I played a couple of first-class games and I broke my back again. I just wasn't ready for it. It is hard to say, "Look, I'm not ready." I wouldn't make that mistake again now.

Eighty-seven Test wickets - so close to the 100 mark. It must have crossed your mind many times before you decided to quit?
I wanted to try and get to 150 Test wickets. That is what I planned when I came back the last time. I wanted to just keep trying. And that was the hardest thing. My motivation to play Test cricket always was to get 50 runs with the bat and take 150 Test wickets. When I came back against Pakistan, I felt I had the opportunity once again to achieve those goals, and then, bang, I got injured. It was demoralising.

Tim Southee was expensive in the first session, New Zealand v India, 3rd Test, Wellington, 1st day, April 3, 2009
"Southee is our biggest talent. There is going to be a lot put on his shoulders in the next two years" © Getty Images

Would you make a comeback?
Test cricket? No chance. Not the way I feel right now.

What is the most difficult thing about fast bowling?
It is bowling when you are sore and uncomfortable, especially in today's game, when you are bowling day in and day out. The hardest thing about bowling is, you know you are going to get hurt at some point. Injury is inevitable. You are just doing everything to stop it. Some guys last longer than others, but sometimes when you get that injury, you tend to get injured again and again.

Steve Waugh reckons there is too much diagnosis of players now. According to him that is adding to the problem rather than resolving. How do you see this?
You always play with niggles. As a player, I know what is sore, what is a niggle and what could blow into something big. Most bowlers want clarity. It is the fear of the unknown: "I am going to go into a game here. There is something not quite right. I don't know what it is." I'd rather know what it is. So if I get a scan, at least I know it is not a tear. It is a professional sport. There is a lot more at stake. The more information you get, the better it is, because at least then I am making an informed decision.

Did you ever find the answer to why you were getting injured so often?
Probably, it was just because of the way I bowled. I struggled to bowl within myself. A lot of bowlers bowl at 90%. I always bowled as hard I could. The thing that hurt me the most was, I was really lazy in my late teens. Because of that, I got a lot of back problems. So I missed a lot of years from 17 to 23. I never had a good base for bowling. I just lacked it. I went away from cricket, and then I am back, and all of a sudden bowling proper fast. I played a little bit of cricket and I was in the New Zealand team suddenly. I went from a little bit of cricket to international cricket, where I am bowling fast. That catch-up was too much. The difference in intensity at domestic and international levels is massive and people don't appreciate how big it is. I just played with that intensity and it took its toll.

Incidentally, you made your international debut because Dion Nash got injured, didn't you?
Yes, I did. I got my chance on an A tour because Scott Styris got injured, and then I got my international chance because Nash and [Shayne] O'Connor got injured in Australia. A lot of players have come in because of someone else's misfortunes.

Do you think the lack of successors plays a role in injuries to fast bowlers?
Yes. For example, if a series is on the line with the score at 1-1, the team doesn't want to risk resting the strike bowler.

Did you consider changing into a line-and-length bowler to prolong your career? Something even someone like Richard Hadlee did.
No, never. People asked me why I didn't ever slow down. But I always saw my value to the team as a strike bowler, Olympic bowler. I give the results because I bowl the way I do. People said I could bowl at 90%. Sure, I have had injures, but I feel I have been a pretty successful bowler the way I am, so why would I change? I'd rather have a shorter career and be successful than stretch it out and let my performance drop.

Is there anything that can be done to preserve fast bowlers?
I worry that fast bowlers are going to withdraw from Test cricket early to play limited-overs cricket. Most fast bowlers break down while playing the longer form, since the ability to rest and rotate is always tough. Bowlers are almost going to be like pitchers, where you play a game and sit out the next, because of the amount of cricket played these days. Australia are lucky because they win more than they lose. They seem to rotate bowlers even during series and still win. People tend to forget they are resting and rotating and giving guys a week off here and there. A lot of the other teams, because they are struggling to win 50-50, are just playing their best team all the time, and they suffer when there are injuries.

"People said I could bowl at 90%. Sure, I have had injures, but I feel I have been a pretty successful bowler the way I am, so why would I change? I'd rather have a shorter career and be successful than stretch it out and let my performance drop"

Is Twenty20 a safer alternative?
Definitely, because it is not day-in-day-out stuff. You know you can go hard for four overs without getting yourself to the point of physical exhaustion even if you happen to bowl again. You are not risking injury like you would when bowling eight- to nine-over spells, which sometimes can be dangerous. In Twenty20, it is much easier.

What do you think will be the long-term impact of the IPL on New Zealand cricket?
The more players we can get exposed to play the IPL, the better it would be for our cricket. Playing in subcontinental conditions, in front of big crowds, against quality spinners under pressure, and also alongside other international players, will teach them various things. It can only mean good for our players.

You took up the ICL offer because the board felt they wanted to move on. Did you feel let down by New Zealand Cricket?
I was. I had a clearance to go and play. It was sad at the time. But I understood the reasons behind the board's decision. Still, it didn't make it easy. But it doesn't bother me anymore. I am happy to be back.

Are Twenty20 leagues a good retirement option for fast bowlers?
I don't look at it as a retirement option. I couldn't retire from international cricket and just play. My motivation comes from achieving stuff for New Zealand. The money is great but you don't play for the money. You play to win, I suppose.

Would you say you underachieved, given your talent, or overachieved despite the injuries?
Statistically, I have overachieved. I have had a stunted career because of the injuries. It gives me a lot of satisfaction that in my last series I bowled at 150kph in a couple of games, despite all the screws and the shit in my back, which is stiff as a board. I'm nearly 35, and to come out and bowl as quick as that gives me satisfaction. I am not fighting it any more. I am enjoying it. I used to be pretty intense and wound up even if I missed a practice session. I am a more relaxed player after my comeback.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by lucyferr on (May 14, 2010, 20:40 GMT)

I wish the BCCI hadn't shortened so many careers like Bond's with their monopolistic and malignant sanctions against the ICL.

Posted by   on (May 14, 2010, 7:40 GMT)

.m.. the baby face is human too! When ever Dad starts like... Oh what r they balling, should see Holding and Garner and company ball, I had the baby face and Aktar to say yes we too have some of the fieriest Our Batsmen will be relieved! . Both of them are gone now! sad. we still get to see Bond in IPL, All the best man. u r the best.

Posted by SmartSalma on (May 14, 2010, 0:00 GMT)

This is kid of a sharp ending for a fairytale. I always knew the hero was gonna fade away soon, but i just can't come to terms with it...It's like, all my years of cricket- loving,shane bond was there, kind of like a permanent foundation for my love, and suddenly-well not suddenly, i've followed cricket for about 5 years- the foundation decides it's time to quit. Oh well, i hope hero number 2 continues his legacy. wish i could, really.

Posted by   on (May 12, 2010, 23:59 GMT)

shane bond the best bowler i ever seen especially the way he bowled against australia in 2003 world cup, unfortunally n.z couldnt win the game but i gotta tell u man u r the best! hey wish u all the best 4 everything u do in your life!!

Posted by   on (May 12, 2010, 22:49 GMT)

I saw Shane bowl a glorious beamer at a Sussex tailender at the Rosebowl a couple of years ago and then followed it up by bowling him with a yorker next ball. No messing around with him!

Posted by   on (May 12, 2010, 22:30 GMT)

Shane Bond one of the best bowler we ll ever have in cricket! not only he is a good bowler but he is a good professional cricket as well. he is the best!!

Posted by jh13 on (May 12, 2010, 11:42 GMT)

Without a doubt my favourite cricketer and I'm not even a Kiwi! What a great attitude, never prepared to give anything less than 100%, there are so many cricketers who could learn a thing or two from that! But not only does he give it his all, he's a gentleman on and off the field; and having had the pleasure of meeting him once at a game he is incredibly obliging to fans. Shane you're a brilliant ambassador for cricket, thanks for the memories and hopefully two or three more years of them to come!

Posted by AbrarAhmed on (May 12, 2010, 11:32 GMT)

Always struck by the ferocious pace he could generate on a good day, contrasting markedly with his non-agressive demeanour. In common with Curtly Ambrose, I don't think I ever saw him needing to sledge a batsmen. A real loss to the fast bowler's union.

Posted by swagata10 on (May 12, 2010, 5:59 GMT)

it is right decision for a injury prone fast bowler like Bond to retire from the test cricket. now,he can concentrate on the onedays nd t-20s.Newzeland needs him.

Posted by kiwiumpire on (May 11, 2010, 22:30 GMT)

Not just a fantastic competitor and a true gentleman both on and off the park. If everyone played as hard but fair as him cricket would be in a far better state. To those in the media who have bagged him in the past for being soft don't know him and have no idea what he went through. I can't imagine a better fast bowling coach for future New Zealand youngsters.

Posted by Mr.A2Z on (May 11, 2010, 18:22 GMT)

Hats off to Shane Bond. We will miss you in test cricket. Its good to read your plan about coaching at the domestic level. Thats where we need guys like you and not in money world of IPL. Hope you will coach youngsters to the best of your abilities and in future we will see more fast bowlers from NZ.

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 16:29 GMT)

I firmly believe that if it wasn't for the injuries, he would be the best fast bowler in the world. Hats off to you mate- you've done cricket proud.

Posted by Punter_28 on (May 11, 2010, 16:26 GMT)

He would have been one of the all time greats who was robbed off by cruel injuries...the other notable one who missed out due to such cruel circumstances was Ian bishop... though there were the likes of Lillie and Willis who braved career threatening injuries and went on to become greats...

Posted by knowledge_eater on (May 11, 2010, 14:54 GMT)

There are not many bowlers who can run over Australia ... i remember one of the one-day match where his average speed for whole 10 overs was 150 km .. thats when I became his fan. Many hypocrites and self righteous people (journalist fans administrators etc. etc.) forget these kind of performances and they start criticizing them just when players think little bit more about their future. Sometimes I wonder why do they suddenly forget all those moments they clapped they cheer once, but as soon as they see them making few decisions or as soon as they start to fail BAM BAM now suddenly hero is forgotten. Once hero became zero. Its just unfair. They are human after all. Not machines.

Posted by arslan7777 on (May 11, 2010, 14:25 GMT)

wat i loved most abt the interview was getting to know his great attacking and aggressive attitude. He did not want to settle into an average pace bowler in order to play longer. He wanted to bowl fast, scare the opposition and keep taking wickets at a great strike rate even if it meant a short career. Well done bond! Its sad for NZ crkt that they found a genuine matchwinner but he couldnt go on for long.

Posted by gudolerhum on (May 11, 2010, 13:24 GMT)

I am glad that I have had the chance to see Shane Bond in action during this T20 series. He is a real talent. It would have been great if he could have a more sustained Test career but his impact has been there. He is an example for others. well done & good luck.

Posted by Capitalist_Cricketer on (May 11, 2010, 12:44 GMT)

Another quality fast bowler retires from test cricket , Pls save test cricket before its too late and 50 overs ODI becomes the next test cricket format. I love test matches and there is nothing which comes close to the excitement and mental streanght of test series between two teams in their prime. Shane Bond thank you for the entertainment provided and good luck in your future and pray you coach some more kiwi pace bowlers into into the internation arena in the future. Also as an Indian supporter maybe you can teach our class batsman how to face the short ball chin music !

Posted by rustin on (May 11, 2010, 11:34 GMT)

A role model for any aspiring express fast bowler(except on the injuries front of course). Can't forget the ODI spell vs Australia in the world cup. There are hardly any genuine fast bowlers left. Hope he continues to play at least some form of cricket.

Posted by kaarthik9925 on (May 11, 2010, 11:24 GMT)

The fast bowlers are now getting injured just because of too much cricket and I am seeing no one is quitting test cricket for one dayers or T20s.Even Ishant Sharma who made an impressive debut against australia looks like he going to retire in 2-3 years.Too much exposure and expectations.And we are not able to find a genuine quick who can last for ten years and bowl consistently.

Posted by Journoman on (May 11, 2010, 10:54 GMT)

@ YoBro, what are you talking about when you say Bond chickened out for money? If you mean ICL, he was told he could still play international cricket, but NZC u-turned. He refused to back out of the ICL because he had signed a contract in good faith, a measure of the man's integrity. As he says, playing for NZ meant everything so you can imagine how tough that decision was. If you're talking about his recent retirement, if he was still trying to play Tests it's likely he's be out all forms with injury. He test comeback lasted one game remember. As a NZ supporter, I'd much prefer a Bond playing limited overs to no Bond at all. You say take breaks, but international cricket is non-stop these days. How many players get to pick and choose what tours they go on that you know of? I really take issue with you saying Bond has devalued his country. Bond was killing himself in the gym after every injury to get back playing for NZ. Many would have just given up, but he was that committed.

Posted by aditya104 on (May 11, 2010, 10:33 GMT)

Your spell in SA in WC2003 against Aus 10-2-23-6 was so entertaining and breathtaking.

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 9:58 GMT)

Perhaps the straightest quickie of all time.But we missed him when he was at his deadly best due to injuries.we may forget him but Ricky ponting can't(2003 world cup)

Posted by plow on (May 11, 2010, 9:20 GMT)

Thanks Shane for everything you've done with ball in hand. You are a pleasure to watch, 150 clicks mate.. haha thats just waaay cool. Seeing you back in Black is just awesome for NZ.

Keep fit and keep on going, dont let numbers decide when you are too old. Many people have said they played their best cricket after their 35th birthday, as long as you keep training and stretching (yoga is awesome for strength and balance in the core of the body, probably where you need it most I'm guessing) you can keep going for many more enjoyable years yet.

Go hard Bondy!

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 9:09 GMT)

Shane Bond is my favorite fast bowler in the World and i never forget his spell against Australia at Adelaide Oval which he destroys the Australian line-up and put the Kiwis Victory.I just say to Shane Bond never discourage your Potential, enthusiasm One day i hope that you r the CHAMPIONS.

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 8:29 GMT)

You are my hero Bondy!!! I never forget the leg stump yorker you bowled to Gilly!!

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 7:50 GMT)

A nice interview. One of my favourite bowlers because he is among a very few genuine quicks in his generation who have had no fingers pointed at their actions.

Posted by htownzryder on (May 11, 2010, 7:34 GMT)

nice interview...nice his calm approach...

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 7:17 GMT)

Nice interview. Bond is my all time favorite bowler with Akhtar Lee and now Tait..... I realy feel sad about these super fast bowlers. I think ICC should look to do something to save these kind of bowlers for test cricket. More bowler friendly wickets my fix a little problem.That would also increase the interest of public in test cricket.

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 7:11 GMT)

He is one hell of a athlete! A bow to him!

Posted by ritwikspatil on (May 11, 2010, 6:56 GMT)

shane bond is one of the best bowler in the world and also one of the most unlucky cricketer because of the no. of injuries he carries. He should continue playing for 3 more years with same pace, he is so good looking so he should also try a carrer in hollywood or bollywood & modelling

Posted by chy.wasik on (May 11, 2010, 6:23 GMT)

I like him...his playing.....he's a good man also....

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 6:20 GMT)

simply one of the greatest, but really unfortunate. I love you so much Bond.

Posted by   on (May 11, 2010, 6:14 GMT)

It would not be an easy job for New Zealand selectors to find a successor to Bond. New Zealand's team isn't as competitve without him in tests. Flintoff, Lee & Bond, test cricket has lost 3 real fast bowlers in a very quick time.

Posted by BillyCC on (May 11, 2010, 5:14 GMT)

Such a shame; Shane Bond could have been the next great fast bowler, a worthy successor to McGrath, Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Ambrose and Walsh from the previous generation. I would rate him above Dale Steyn and Mitchell Johnson if only he had played more.

Posted by Sahil_onrequest on (May 11, 2010, 5:07 GMT)

He is surely the best fast bowler i have seen where no question has been raised about his action.. i really love new zealand cricket and i wish him all the best for future and hope he does well in IPL next year as well.. Take care Bond.. you are the best!!

Posted by YoBro on (May 11, 2010, 5:06 GMT)

I still think he had a good 4-5 years of fiery pace left in him. I lost some respect for him, because by quitting when fans were desperate for him to continue spearheading the weak NZ attack, he exposed that he was only after money (I don't mean that in a bad way - just that he devalued his country in the process). I don't think any injury is worth quitting so soon. I mean, take breaks; be selective of your tours - you're playing for NZ, for Christ's sake - not a circus like the IPL! There were dozens of ways of resolving this but the fact remains that Shane Bond chickened out for money.

Posted by anoopsy on (May 11, 2010, 4:16 GMT)

I don't know if it is really sad, Bond's story or we were just lucky we even got see some fierce fast bowling. The yorker to Gilchrist in the Chappell- Hadlee series, for example could rival anything waqar could bowl. Bond could've been so much more.. at i guess little os better than none!

Posted by wanderer1 on (May 11, 2010, 3:33 GMT)

Shane Bond's alright... for an ex-copper.

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