The Heavy Ball

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So long, Shane (sniff)

Why Bond's retirement was a little like being dumped (again) by your gorgeous on-now, off-now girlfriend

Andrew Fernando

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Shane Bond bowled a fast and hostile spell, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Test, Dunedin, 3rd day, November 26, 2009
Bond: the world's most fragile policeman © Getty Images
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I like Christmas time in New Zealand. Mainly because of the irony really. It's just a great big hilarious paradox. Here we are sunbathing on the beach in the sweltering heat, gulping down ice cream whilst sparking up the barbie (being careful not to throw another shrimp on it, because otherwise people get confused) - yet at the same time belting out old favourites about walking in a winter wonderland, sleigh bells ringing, having a white Christmas and all that sort of carry on. It's pretty good fun. Usually.

But this year things were different. Instead of spending Christmas morning joyously unwrapping presents around our fake-snow-adorned trees with the reindeer decorations, New Zealand was in a state of collective mourning. It wasn't downright despair. That's generally reserved for the special occasion that occurs every four years when the All Blacks invariably choke at yet another World Cup. But it still hurt. Shane Bond had announced his retirement from Test cricket.

See, to New Zealand, Shane Bond is like that stunningly gorgeous girlfriend whom you've been with on and off for the last few years. When you're with her, everything is absolutely fantastic. You feel good, you're motivated at work, your mum tells you that she likes what you've done with your hair. You tell yourself that the only thing more satisfying than this relationship would be a never-ending repeat reel of Shane Watson getting out in the 90s. But then something bad happens. Things are said. Feelings are hurt. She joins the rebel league and is banned from dating you for two years. But you never really stop loving her.

Then she comes back and all is forgiven. This time it feels like it will last forever. You make plans for her to meet your family. You plan your whole summer around her. But she calls you up and tells you it's over, two days before Christmas. Two days. You couldn't have waited that long before you broke the news? Thanks a lot Shane. You slag! Now my family thinks I'm a total wimp because I spent all of Christmas night bawling my eyes out in the bathroom while eating ice cream from the tub.

So what does New Zealand do now? I suppose we can try and console ourselves by saying there are plenty more fish in the sea. Trouble is, the next best one looks like Chris Martin. There's not even an O'Brien to rebound on anymore.

We should have all seen it coming though. Another Shane Bond injury is always just around the corner. People often wonder how a guy who used to be a police officer could possibly be so fragile. But those people generally don't realise that the toughest thing about being a cop in New Zealand is defusing disputes between sheep and talking Smeagol down from the crevasse on Mt Doom. In retrospect, it was a retirement waiting to happen.

So, farewell Shane. We'll see you in the shorter formats, but it won't be the same. Rarely has a cricketer brought so much joy and so much heartache to his nation at the same time. Goodbye, and if you could return that box of my stuff I kept round at your place, that would be great. Cheers.

Andrew Fernando is a student at Auckland University

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