Shane Bond has signed up with the Indian Cricket League (ICL), according to one of the league's senior officials. New Zealand Cricket's chief executive Justin Vaughan will meet with Bond on Tuesday as NZC make a last-ditch attempt to rescue Bond's international career.
Ashish Kaul, the executive vice-president of the Essel Group, the company behind the ICL, confirmed the rumours that the league had secured New Zealand's strike bowler. "Shane Bond has signed up," Kaul told Reuters. "It's a three-year contract that he has with the Indian Cricket League."
The Herald on Sunday reported Bond's ICL deal was worth US$800,000 a season, regardless of whether he is fit to play. That would equate to more than NZ$3 million over the length of the contract - an extremely attractive proposition for the injury-prone Bond, who turns 33 this year. While NZC would prefer Bond to sign with the Indian Premier League (IPL), which has the backing of India's board, their offer is reportedly a much lower US$250,000 a season, provided Bond is fit to play.
An abdominal strain has kept Bond out of the current Test series against Bangladesh but Bond said he would make his comeback through club cricket next weekend. He would not confirm the reports he had signed with the ICL. "There's a few agreements in place that mean I can't really talk at the moment," Bond told the paper. "I'd rather work through those before saying too much."
The deal would likely mean the end of Bond's Test and ODI career, as NZC has already told its selectors to consider other players ahead of any who join the ICL. NZC has also made an agreement with the other Test nations that any players who take part in the non-officially-sanctioned ICL should not be selected for international duties.
Heath Mills, the New Zealand Cricket Players Association manager, said the rights of the players needed to be kept in mind. "We just need to make sure we don't do anything that breaches the rights of the individual contractor in any way, shape or form, and effectively bring on a situation that results in NZC being in dispute with its players," Mills told the Sunday Star Times.
"It's not necessary. We need to continue working hard to find a solution that is good for both parties. It's not staring us in the face right now, I'm the first to admit. But we're not going to give up on finding a solution that's good for both NZC and for the players."