Shane Bond, when fit, has been an exhilarating sight. His appearances over six years for New Zealand may have been disappointingly spasmodic, but his pace, guile and one of the best yorkers around ensures he leaves many fine memories for cricket fans. But the lure of the dollar has proved too much, and, because of the ICC's draconian attitude towards those who sign up for the Indian Cricket League, Bond will probably never play for New Zealand again - despite the fact ICL commitments would not prevent him playing for the Kiwis in the forthcoming series with England.
It is a ludicrous situation, and will hit the already depleted New Zealand side extremely hard, but it would be unfair in the extreme to blame Bond. Even in a career that only spanned 17 Tests and 67 ODIs, few could deny his place as the second best Kiwi fast bowler of all time. Yet New Zealand are a small country new to the concept of professional sport; their Test crowds seldom exceed a few hundred. Bond has been the victim of copious injuries during his career - at 32, he cannot be blamed for looking after his earning power, which will be several times greater playing ICL cricket. He also claims he wants to play county cricket too - fitness permitting, there are few more desirable players around.
A charge frequently levelled against performers whose success is only fleeting is that they never proved themselves against the best. With Shane Bond, such an accusation cannot hold. In 11 ODIs against Australia, he has a stunning record: 34 wickets at 13. His havoc-wreaking spells of 5-25 and 4-38 during the 2002 VB series helped to ensure the competition was not lost amidst the sea of one-dayers. But his sensational spell in the 2003 World Cup cemented his reputation, regardless of whether he ever comes near repeating the feat again.
It was in this Super Six game that Bond proved on the world stage that, when fit, he is the consummate fast bowler. He had the height to trouble the world’s best with the bounce he generated. But it was his sheer pace and accuracy in pitching the ball up (he resisted the fast bowler’s temptation to bowl too short) that threw the tournament winners into disarray. Bond’s incredible spell amounted to 6-23 reduced Australia to 84-7.
Owing to Bond's penchant for obtaining injuries and the ICC's stubbornness over banning ICL players - the result chiefly of pressure from the BCCI - he will go down as a cricketing enigma, a man who gave only fleeting examples of his talent. Over the course of his career, though, there has been no finer fast bowler in the world. Bond's averages of 22 in Tests and 19 in ODIs are simply phenomenal in an era of bigger bats and shorter boundaries; he lit up two World Cups with his fusion of pace, aggression and an under-rated cricketing brain. It would be a disgrace if his name is tarnished and he is branded a 'traitor' for doing what any rational man would.