Johannesburg: New Zealand will look to a pacy policeman to control run-riots from rampaging batsmen in the World Cup in South Africa. He is Shane Bond, a 27-year-old Christchurch cop who has been bowling fast and learning faster for the past couple of years to ensure stroke-makers do not cause mayhem on cricket fields. Bond is comparatively new to international cricket as he has figured in just eight Tests and 18 One-dayers, but making rapid strides towards stardom.
"I admire him (Bond) as a cricketer," said India captain Saurav Ganguly whose team faced the Bond fury on a recent tour of New Zealand. "He has the ability to succeed on any surface. He was the key to New Zealand's success in Test series. His presence strengthens the side," he said. New Zealand clinched the two-Test series 2-0 against India, with Bond playing a major role with 12 wickets. Bond is the quickest bowler in the team and is likely to prove a big asset on hard and bouncy South African tracks.
He is accurate too, for being quick alone is not enough to unsettle the best in the biggest One-day tournament. Bond rose from virtual anonymity to international fame on the tour of Australia two seasons ago. The responsibility of opening the attack against a formidable batting line-up was thrust upon him after Dion Nash had broken down. That was the opening Bond needed to establish himself as one of the strike bowlers in the team. New Zealand drew a tough three-Test series and then went on to qualify for a triangular One-day series final against South Africa, with Bond consistently grabbing the headlines.
He captured 21 wickets and was named player of One-day series. He had finally landed on the scene. When Bond arrived in the West Indies, he had earned the right to share the new ball. He never let his captain Stephen Fleming down in a two-Test series, grabbing 12 wickets in three innings to play a significant role in New Zealand's maiden series victory in the Caribbean. It was then never easy to forget the New Zealand fast bowler, who finished with seven wickets in the Barbados Test, including five in the second innings, as the West Indies crashed to its fourth defeat in 70 years at the Kensington Oval.
Bond is the new face of New Zealand cricket, which has learnt to give the best teams a run for their money in both Tests and One-dayers. Fast and accurate bowlers, experts say, are expected to play a key role in making their teams fortunes in South Africa. The star parade will be long, from Glenn McGrath to Wasim Akram to Shaun Pollock, but Bond will be the last bowler to be intimidated or overawed by big names. Bond said when he was a kid, he had wanted two things in life - one was to play cricket for New Zealand and the other was to become a policeman. Batsmen and law- breakers beware! Bond has become both.