Brief but brilliant
Not often in cricket would a fast bowler who has played less than 20 Tests and 100 ODIs merit greatness. But Shane Bond was one of the best of his era despite an extremely short, injury ridden career. Right from his sensational debut in the tri-series in Australia in 2001-02, where he produced some brilliant fast bowling to pick up 21 wickets, to his final ODI against Australia in March 2010, Bond proved to be New Zealand's best bowler and leading match-winner in both formats of the game. Despite playing only a handful of Test matches due to his injuries, Shane Bond's overall stats still compare favourably with the best fast bowlers. His importance in New Zealand victories can be gauged from his exceptional strike rate of 29.5, which puts him second on the list of bowlers with the best strike rate in wins after 1970. Bond picked up 32 wickets at a superb average of 15.12 in the four games in which he was the player of the match, which further illustrates his match-winning abilities.
The table below shows New Zealand's performance in Tests when Bond played and in games when he was absent. There is a stark contrast between the two scenarios. Clearly, Bond was the best fast bowler for New Zealand since Richard Hadlee, and his absence inevitably meant lack of good enough bowling resources to win Test matches.
|Played||Won||Lost||Drawn||Bowling average||Strike rate|
In the one day game too, Bond was among the top bowlers going around. His strike rate of 29.2 puts him right on top among the bowlers with over 100 wickets. But it is his bowling against the traditional rivals Australia, easily the best team of the last decade, which is truly awe inspiring. When compared with the bowling performances of all other bowlers against Australia, Bond has the best average and the most wickets during the period from his debut to his retirement. One of his most memorable bowling performances against Australia came in the World Cup 2003 when he destroyed the Australian top order to leave them floundering at 84 for 7 before the Australians staged a remarkable comeback to win the game. This stunning effort by Bond is the second best bowling performance in defeats, behind Imran Khan's 6 for 14 against India in 1985. The table below summarises the performance of top bowlers against the Australians in ODIs between 2002 and 2010. Shane Bond has the most number of wickets and also possesses the best strike rate and average among all bowlers.
|Bowler||Matches played||Wickets taken||Average||Strike rate||4||5|
Bond's World Cup record is also testimony to the fact that he raised his game for the big moments. He picked up 17 wickets in the 2003 edition and added 13 more in the 2007 tournament, where New Zealand made the semi-finals. The table below summarises the top performers in the two World Cups.
|Bowler||Matches played||Wickets taken||Average||Strike rate||Economy rate|
His recurring injuries, though, meant that Bond had no option but to play only the shorter formats of the game to extend his career. He excelled there too: in a highly batsman-dominated format, his tally of 25 wickets at an economy rate of 7.00 in Twenty20 internationals is quite superb. He also performed quite well in the 2010 season of the Indian Premier League for the Kolkata Knight Riders, picking up nine wickets in eight games. Bond's class is also vindicated by the fact that he regularly dismissed the best batsmen in bothTests and ODIs. His bowling skills enabled New Zealand to stay extremely competitive in all forms of the game. Now, their hunt for a strike bowler starts again.