Shane Bond's retirement May 14, 2010

The best since Hadlee

We'll never know how great Shane Bond could have been with a more resilient body. We do know he was one of the finest fast bowlers of his time
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Across the road from Seddon Park in Hamilton, there's a sign that says "Return trundlers here". It's in a supermarket car-park and it refers to shopping carts, but it's easy to imagine a parade of New Zealand seamers lining up there upon retirement over the years. Shane Bond won't be joining them. Far from being a trundler, Bond was New Zealand's best fast bowler since Richard Hadlee, and a man who did his finest work against the classiest batsmen of his generation.

In a New Zealand team full of honest toilers and patchy performers, Bond stood out as the one man likely to destroy the opposition. Daniel Vettori is a terrific bowler but opponents are wary of him rather than frightened. Bond had the fear factor. He could bowl well into the 150kph region, swung the new ball with skill, and was a master of the toe-crushing, stump-shattering yorker.

Consider the batsmen he dismissed the most in internationals: Ricky Ponting, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Virender Sehwag, Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara - huge wickets, every one of them. The man at the head of that list was asked earlier this year what New Zealand could do to become more competitive in Tests. Ponting thought the question over for a while, and then replied: "Ask Shane Bond to come back and play, that would be a good start."

He only ever played two Tests against Australia and it was the last series between the teams that was genuinely competitive. New Zealanders will remember with special fondness his regular demolitions of Australia, at a time when they were unquestionably the best side in the world. He took 44 one-day wickets against them at an incredible 15.79, including a match-winning five-for in his debut series and one of only two ODI hat-tricks ever taken by a New Zealander.

Perhaps his most memorable day against Australia came in the 2003 World Cup, when he beat Adam Gilchrist for pace, had Ponting caught at slip with a wonderful fast outswinger, and finished with 6 for 23. They are remarkable figures in any ODI but even more significantly, they came against a team that went through the tournament undefeated.

The downside to his achievements was that he expended so much physical effort that he became as much a fixture of the doctor's waiting room as out-of-date magazines. Often it was his back, but he also had trouble with his feet, knees, abdomen - pretty much anywhere the strain of his unrelenting exertion was felt. It was revealing that earlier this week he told Cricinfo he'd rather have a short, successful career, than prolong it and have his results suffer.

We'll never be sure just how great he could have been, had he been blessed with a more resilient body. We do know that he has the all-time best ODI bowling average for a New Zealander, and his country's lowest Test bowling average with a 50-wicket qualification. The sad part is, make it a 100-wicket minimum and Bond wouldn't qualify. He retired from Tests in December and has now given up all forms.

There was a decade between Hadlee's retirement and the emergence of Bond, and in the meantime, plenty of trundlers were tried and returned. Here's hoping New Zealand don't have to wait ten years for their next great fast bowler to arrive.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on May 15, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    Best since Hadlee; we will never get to see whether he was better than Hadlee or not. I agree that he iis another victim of IPL, not directly though. IPL just adds more games to an already pack schedule for the worlds best. Bond was a Canterbury Boy like Hadlee, maybe they should be hunting here for the next one. I think though you can come to expect less fast bowlers in the game.... Its probably time the ICC looks at what can be done to protect the game so guys still want to run in and bowl 150KPH plus... Its a shame Bondy won't make himself avaliable just for the Canterbury Wizards, maybe they can cox him back to One Day stuff like they did with Craig McMillan?

  • HLANGL on May 15, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    There's virtually no doubt that Shane Bond at his prime, which was may be 3-4 years back, could rival any great pace bowler of his generation. But unlike all other great bowlers of his generation, Bond had so many injuries etc. which kept him out of the international arena more often than not. It's really sad to see a bowler of his ability & sheer pace which was once consistently hovering around 150 kmph, leaving the game with even less than 100 test wickets. It was really due to the far too less number of games he could play, not due to any lack of ability. During his last periods, he was much slower, more a 140 kmph bowler rather than an exterme pacer who once got even the world's best batsmen jumping. To dam12641: "Sure, Bond was a great bowler but describing him as "the best since Hadlee" is a bit like saying "Snowdon is the highest mtn apart from Everest"." Too harsh. If you had any knowledge regarding what a great potential Shand Bond had, you wouldn't say such a nonesense.

  • dummy4fb on May 15, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    No doubt about it that Shane has been very good through out his career after Sir Richard Hardly. He would have retired after the world cup this year. Nevertheless, all the best to him and his family.

  • youcanhaveabat on May 15, 2010, 10:58 GMT

    Srinivas: what rot! Anyway, India is not number 1 now, nor will they be in the near future. The game ebbs and flows. The fast bowlers you mentioned are the latest batch yes, but there was a better generation in the 70s and 80s. Bond was and remains a legend of the game. My quality yardstick these days is to ask would that player have made the Australian team, on merit? In Bond's case, it is a resounding 'YES'! He would've had the new ball! Enjoy your retirement mate, hope the niggles don't last forever...

  • TarunVijay on May 15, 2010, 4:55 GMT

    I agree that Bond's retirement from cricket is a huge loss for New Zealand & international cricket but blaming everything on IPL is just not right....Bond played 8 matches over 2 weeks in IPL and bowled a total of 31 overs, which is almost same number of overs he has bowled per test match during his 18 test match career. So i do not think it is right to blame IPL as a sole reason for bond's retirement.

  • mmatahaere on May 14, 2010, 23:30 GMT

    What isn't known is that Shane Bond is the best Indigenous cricket player to ever come out of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Yes thats right, Shane Bond is Maori - Ngai Tahu to be exact from Te Waipounamu/South Island New Zealand!

  • ArishaG on May 14, 2010, 23:14 GMT

    Never seen Hadlee play. But amongst all the names that will stand out from NZ after Hadlee will be that of Bond. There's been Nash, brief contributions from Doul, Allott....but the one name that totally amde an impact in the field of fast bowling will the Shane Bond. We are going to miss him. Best wishes from Pakistan.

  • dam12641 on May 14, 2010, 22:34 GMT

    Sure, Bond was a great bowler but describing him as "the best since Hadlee" is a bit like saying "Snowdon is the highest mtn apart from Everest".

  • Optimistix on May 14, 2010, 15:48 GMT

    @Srinivas Pachari - what nonsense! India's no. 1 ranking is in test cricket - Lee, Nannes and Tait don't even play it, and Roach just appeared on the scene. To suggest that there's a conspiracy by India to get rid of all fast bowlers to protect their ranking is beyond ridiculous. Moreover, you shouldn't confuse the test batting line-up with the T20 one.

    But coming to the article itself, Shane Bond was indeed a champion fast bowler, and the role played by the BCCI-IPL nexus in depriving test cricket of such a bowler for a couple of years was indeed shameful, as was NZ's lack of support for him.

  • dummy4fb on May 14, 2010, 14:53 GMT

    Look at the genuineness of his confession.. he'd rather have a short, successful career, than prolong it and have his results suffer! One could never imagine such openness in India. Here people drag along as much as they can! Who cares for performing at their best? It is all money, honey.

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