ICL offer puts NZC 'on the back foot'

New Zealand search for ways to keep Bond

Cricinfo staff

January 3, 2008

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Could Shane Bond finish with only 17 Tests to his name? © Getty Images
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Shane Bond might have played his last game for New Zealand, with the chief executive of New Zealand Cricket (NZC) Justin Vaughan conceding he was running out of time to stop Bond joining the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Bond's agent Leanne McGoldrick would not confirm if the fast bowler had signed up, only saying that he intended to honour his NZC contract which expires in May, and officials of the ICL, when contacted by Cricinfo, said he'd signed up but would speak only off the record.

If Bond has accepted a lucrative deal with the ICL, it would effectively end his international career as the league does not have the backing of the ICC. Vaughan said there was still a chance Bond could stay with New Zealand, although it appeared unlikely.

"We'd love to see him playing for New Zealand and that is why we have turned over so many stones, but at the moment we are on the back foot," Vaughan told the Dominion Post. "I can't say for certain he has signed but I understand that is what his agent is saying.

"Even if he has signed with the ICL, we'd love to see if there was a way to get him out of that contract. We'll fund all the support to get him out of it, similar to what Pakistan has done with Mohammad Yousuf."

New Zealand are desperate to retain their best fast bowler, even though his injury curse continued late last year when he suffered an abdominal tear on the tour of South Africa. The problem ruled him out of New Zealand's current series against Bangladesh, although he was expected to be fit for the series against England, which starts in February.

Vaughan said it must have been frustrating for Bond to manage only 17 Tests in his stop-start career. Despite numerous unsuccessful meetings with Bond to try and convince him to instead join the officially-sanctioned Indian Premier League, Vaughan would not criticise Bond's decision.

"I know we haven't seen very much of him lately, but you always hope your last injury is your last one," Vaughan said. "I don't think it is a question of loyalty here. He is a champion and we'd be very sorry to lose him."

The paper reported that Bond's ICL deal was likely to be worth NZ$600,000 - about three times what he earned as an NZC-contracted player. If his decision is confirmed it would give New Zealand serious headaches about whether he could be chosen for future Test and ODI series.

Vaughan has previously said that the selectors should consider other players ahead of those who had already joined the ICL, including Hamish Marshall and Daryl Tuffey. Extending that to include Bond would be a hard decision for NZC, given his excellent record of 79 Test wickets at 22.39.

"Our preference is for the selectors not to choose those players," Vaughan said. "It is not a ban, but it would be fair to say if he has signed we would prefer he didn't play in the England series."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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