As some of you may know, a few friends and I, went to the Caribbean in 2007 to watch the super six stage of the world cup tournament. We had planned on watching the India games, which would’ve been against Australia and New Zealand. Of course, you know how it all transpired. India did not make it to the Super 6 and we were left with watching an over-matched Bangladesh dueling (exaggeration of the highest degree) Australia in a rain-shortened match and then, New Zealand.
As much as we missed India there, it was sort of a liberating feeling because, now, we could watch these games as just fans of the game, and not be part of the roller coaster experience that is commonplace anytime you watch India play. One of the biggest pluses from this was that we got to watch the almost like a thoroughbred coming down the home stretch sort of smooth and rhythmic action, that belonged to the one and only, Shane Bond.
Bond was one of those very few bowlers that were capable of bowling really fast but really accurately. The silky run up, the purposeful gather and a forceful delivery (with a loud grunt that you could hear very clearly sitting at the midwicket boundary) was a sight to behold. When in full flight, he is one of the most breathtaking and destructive fast bowlers to watch. Today is a sad day for cricket fans all around the world, as he has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
From our vantage point in the Sir Viv Richards ground, we could hear, see and feel the kind of effort that went in to each one of Bond’s delivery. You could, I kid you not, hear the ball bounce off the pitch and after beating the waft of yet another Bangladeshi batsman, thud into McCullum’s gloves. A gentle slowing down in the follow through, a quick look at the batsman, swift turn around, a mild tug on the shirt sleeve, the left index finger swishing the sweat from the eyebrow, he was already back on the top of his mark and ready to hurl at more than 90 mph, again.
Shane Bond’s cricketing career was interrupted frequently by injuries and put on hold briefly due to his decision to join the ICL. It was a career that promised so much more when it began, but has ended leaving all cricket fans wondering what if. Eventually, the burden of being a tearaway fast bowler was something his body just could not handle.
I find it difficult to hold back. I just go hard. It hurt me. But I wanted to keep playing. I have had enough injuries. I am sick and tired of being in rehab, and if I did that one more time I would’ve been probably finished. I wanted to finish playing [Tests] rather than get injured and fall by the side. I’d rather have a shorter career and be successful than stretch it out and let my performance drop.
In spite of the brevity of his playing days, he was rated the best bowler in the world for a brief period. He averaged about 5 wickets for every test match he played (87 off 18) and just about 2 wickets for every ODI (147 off 82). One of his best bowling performances came against New Zealand’s fiercest rival and neighbor, Australia in the 2003 World cup.
This Bond has said “Never Again” to cricket. Au revoir Shane. We’ll miss you!