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October 19, 2012
Beset by injuries and straddling the start of the Twenty20 era, Shane Bond's New Zealand career was all too brief. The lessons of it are not to be lost however, after Bond signed on to replace Damien Wright as the national team's bowling coach.
Having retired from the game a little more than two years ago, Bond has spent the intervening time studying up as a coach, and will now bring his combination of recent experience, empathy and a reputation as one of the most feared pace bowlers of the past decade to help add a greater edge to New Zealand's bowling stocks.
He has a significant task ahead of him, with New Zealand facing tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa before a meeting with England at home. These battles against higher ranked sides brought the best out of Bond as a bowler, but he must now contend with them as a mentor.
"Playing for New Zealand was the highlight of my career from a professional point of view and I thought that once I finished I'd have something to offer," Bond said in Auckland. "The last couple of years have been about preparing myself to perhaps have the opportunity to take this role, and I'm just rapt that I got it.
"I'm pretty clear on what I want to do and it's just a matter of getting some buy-in from those guys. I think there's a respect there between myself and the players, I certainly won't go in with a dictator's point of view, and I think it's just working alongside those guys and getting the best out of them."
Bond outlined his coaching philosophy as a matter of challenging the players under his watch to get the best out of themselves. He also hoped to usher New Zealand's bowlers into an era of greater consistency, despite the challenges of constantly shifting between three formats.
"I've always been someone who's been organised and professional, and it is just getting the best out of players," he said. "I understand that it is their careers and they will have a way they want to get about their work. As a coach it is just about challenging those ideas and pushing the guys along so they can reach their potential.
"If you look at the players we've got, they've got the skills, and it's not always about bowling fast. It's just about being more consistent, not just within a game but game by game. I think we see good performances, game to game the guys turn up and really do well, but what we want is to see that on a consistent level. As a coach it's about getting a consistent performance, not only over a game, but a series and beyond.
"There's challenges because you jump from format to format so fast, so preparation before tours is going to be important to give the guys the information they need to lead into each tour. Then it's up to myself and them to implement some training stuff so when they hit the tour they're ready to go. That's the way it's been for a long time, and most of the adjustments are mental."
The matter of injury management is something Bond grew all too familiar with during his time as an international bowler, and he said he would now put those years of pain and frustration to use in advising the bowlers under his care.
"I spent the last couple of years working with guys like Hamish Bennett and Matt Henry who are rebuilding from similar injuries to what I've had," Bond said. "I understand the challenges in and around injuries, not only from a physical point of view but the psychological impacts that can have as well.
"There's a lot of experiences I'll pull in from playing that I'll use, but there's also the last couple of years to reflect on things perhaps I should have done differently as a player, and things from different coaches."
Happy to admit that spin bowling is not an area he can offer a great deal of wisdom about, Bond said he would incorporate other voices to help develop the skills of slow bowlers as well as fast.
"You've got to acknowledge that's definitely not my area of expertise, so I've got no problem whether it be pace or spin incorporating other coaches into the mix to give the guys a different voice," he said. "You can't be everything for everyone, there's going to be players in the team who already have coaches they like to work with. Part of my vision will be incorporating other coaches, giving guys different voices to listen to and let them take what they want to."
Bond's first assignment will be in Sri Lanka, in which he said he would seek to familiarise himself with the players while also setting benchmarks for the standards of training he wanted to see.
"I think it's just challenging the guys around practice to take that form into matches," Bond said. "Testing those skills under pressure at training. It is going to take a little bit of time to incorporate that stuff, it's not a matter of me just coming and imposing everything I want to do in the first tour, it'll be balanced, there'll be time to get to know the players."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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