Bond raring to go
When he steps out to play against Sri Lanka in Queenstown on Saturday, Shane Bond will unbelievably be playing his first international match in New Zealand in nearly three years. Bond last turned out in a home one-day against India in January 2003, immediately prior to the World Cup. His last home Test was against the same opponents the previous month.
In a four-year career plagued by injury, Bond has played only three of his 36 ODIs and five of 12 Tests at home. And as he revealed in an interview with the New Zealand Herald, understandably, he is raring to go against the Sri Lankans.
"The goal for me now is to get over this hurdle of playing another game at home, which has been a bit of a bogey.
"So my first target is Queenstown, the next is Christchurch and, once I've got that monkey off my back, I should be match hardened and ready for the West Indies series next month."
Bond's most recent injury - a hamstring strain - caused him to miss the three-match Chappell-Hadlee series although he said he could've, at a stretch, played the final ODI in which New Zealand pulled off a stunning world-record chase to down Australia.
"I knew it was only going to be a one-weeker (injury). I knew there was heaps of cricket coming up and that if I played well I could be part of it, so it was just a matter of refocusing on this series.
Bond's warm-up since has involved some domestic cricket and work in the nets. "I was a little bit nervous about how the game at Carisbrook might go but everything seemed to click into gear, and now I'm looking forward to working hard in the nets, and getting ready for the Sri Lankans. It's been a quiet week so I'll use the next few days to run in hard and get the body used to full intensity again, before tapering down closer to the game."
Bond warned the Sri Lankans that the extra bounce in New Zealand pitches will be difficult for them to counter. "If we can get the usual amount of bounce and carry in the pitches, remembering Sri Lanka's been playing their recent cricket in India, then I think we've got a real chance.
"We've already seen against Australia that our wickets are pretty flat and you still have to bowl well, but hopefully that little extra bit of bounce can work in our favour, and can be used to best advantage. I like to keep things simple and avoid getting too ahead of myself, but obviously the short ball can come into it, especially when it's the harder, white variety."
Bond also said that New Zealand were in high spirits following their win in the last match against Australia. "The guys were pretty pumped up after the Aussie game. I think we all realise that if we produce our A game we'll be difficult for anyone beat."