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New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond has announced his retirement from Test cricket due to a recurring battle with injury. He will continue to represent his country in one-dayers and Twenty20s.
Bond, 34, revived his international career earlier this year after quitting the unofficial Indian Cricket League. He made a comeback to the limited-overs side during the tour of Sri Lanka, before working his way back to the Test squad. Following a match-winning performance in the first Test against Pakistan in Dunedin, he was forced to withdraw from the two remaining games after tearing an abdominal muscle. The injury setback - the latest in a career punctuated by back, feet and soft tissue problems - left him disappointed, prompting him to reassess his future as a Test player.
"The hardest thing is that I've always considered myself a Test bowler - and it was such a great feeling to be back in the team last month and playing Test match cricket with the Blackcaps," Bond said.
"I've worked really hard to get back to Test match fitness - it's what I've been working towards for the past two years - and I feel I gave as much as I could. But looking back, so many of my injuries have come during Test cricket. Unfortunately my body just won't let me continue to play at that level, given the workload and demands of Test cricket.
"I don't want to end on an injury and I am absolutely committed to playing for the Blackcaps. This way I hope I've got a better chance of continuing to play. I hope I'll be able to continue to contribute to the team and to New Zealand cricket fans for a while yet.
"It's been a tough call, because Test cricket remains the ultimate form of the game - but I'm comfortable I've made the right choice."
Bond said he is targeting the one-dayers against Australia starting February for his comeback. He added that he would start playing club cricket in January before representing Canterbury in one-day games the following month.
Justin Vaughan, the CEO of New Zealand Cricket, sympathised with Bond's decision.
"Shane really showed his never-say-die attitude in his comeback this season, especially in the Test Match against Pakistan - and I know how tough this decision has been for him," Vaughan said. "Of course we're disappointed that he won't be part of the Test line-up, but New Zealand Cricket supports his decision to focus on limited-overs cricket and hopes that this decision will prolong his international career.
"He remains one of the best fast bowlers in the international game and we're delighted that he's doing all he can to keep playing."
One of the fastest bowlers in world cricket since the 2000s, Bond has the distinction of being the quickest New Zealander to 50 wickets in Tests and ODIs. However, since his debut in 2001, he has managed to play only 18 Tests, taking 87 wickets, and 77 ODIs. Stress-fractures to his feet and back forced him to miss numerous games and tours, including the 2004 series in England. After a successful tour of Zimbabwe in 2005, a knee injury ruled him out for nine months. He joined the ICL in 2007, had his New Zealand Cricket contract terminated, but was readmitted to the international ranks earlier this year when the Twenty20 league offered amnesty to its players.
He ends his Test career regarded by many as New Zealand's best fast bowler since Sir Richard Hadlee.