Fears for the future of international cricket have again been voiced after fast bowler Shane Bond terminated his New Zealand Cricket contract to play in the rebel Indian Cricket League.
Black Caps career over for Bond
The Bond saga officially ended yesterday, the 32-year-old effectively ending his international career after four weeks of negotiation and mediation came to nothing.
"I have taken immense pride in playing for the Black Caps," said Bond, who despite an injury-plagued career will be remembered as one of New Zealand's great bowlers. "I believed I could continue to do so for the term of my contract while also taking up the ICL opportunity. I will continue to be available to play for the Black Caps and look forward to doing so once again when NZC deems this appropriate."
However, Bond announced he would not have been available to play the tests against England in any case.
The distress caused by an abdominal tear suffered against South Africa in November convinced Bond any future New Zealand representation would be confined to the less stressful Twenty20 and one-day international formats.
"Coming home from South Africa was really tough," he said. "I sat back and reflected when I got home and realised most of the injuries I've had have come from the longer form of the game.
"I just wanted to play for two more years in Twenty20 and one-day, [and] the best option was to step down from test cricket."
"I didn't want to go through that [rehabilitation] process again and then have to play six tests on the bounce - history suggests [that] would have been a struggle."
Bond rejected suggestions he was disloyal in opting for the ICL, saying his intention was always to continue playing for New Zealand.
"It's not coin over country. That's why I got the release that allowed me to play for my country and the ICL at the same time.
"The ICL were happy for me to keep playing for New Zealand."
NZC chief executive Justin Vaughan, who described the outcome as "disappointing", admitted his organisation was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
"Our obligation is to abide by all of the International Cricket Council's regulations, and this one regulation which prevents us from having contracted players playing in rebel leagues has meant Shane is unable to play out the term of his contract."
Vaughan conceded Bond's NZC contract allowed him to play in the rebel league and that was something NZC needed to address to avoid similar scenarios.
He admitted the departure of Bond, the seventh Kiwi to join the ICL but by far the biggest loss, was concerning for international cricket.
"I think most players do have a genuine desire to want to play and our financial position means that it is becoming more attractive to continue to play international cricket," Vaughan said.
"But having said that, it is difficult for us to compete with the likes of the rebel league, which doesn't have to fund grassroots cricket the way NZC does.
"It is certainly going to be a topic of discussion at the ICC meeting in March in Kuala Lumpur. Every ICC member country is having to grapple with it at the moment and we will be going to that meeting trying to find ways we can protect our top players."
New Zealand Cricket Players Association executive manager Heath Mills also labelled the outcome disappointing. Mills said the Bond situation had to be addressed before international cricket was further devalued.
"We urge the ICC to step in and attempt to influence this situation and find a way to manage third party investment in our sport before we lose more players both here and around the world."
For all that, Vaughan didn't close the door on Bond returning.
"If the ICL was to collapse, or if he wanted to stop playing in the ICL, then I think under both of those circumstances the door would be open for Shane."
Bond played 67 one-day internationals, taking 125 wickets at 19.32, and 17 tests, taking 79 wickets at 22.39.
- With NZPA
- The Dominion Post
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