Bond’s exit leaves New Zealand bowling in tatters


Sydney : The exit of tearaway Shane Bond to join the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) has left New Zealand in troubled waters as they are now left with a second string bowling attack in the Test series at home versus England in March and February.

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Bond, who is the best Kiwi fast bowler since Sir Richard Hadlee, is the seventh New Zealand cricketer after Hamish Marshall, Daryl Tuffey, Chris Cairns, Craig McMillan, Nathan Astle and Chris Harris to join the rebel league.

The New Zealand selectors have already said that Marshall and Tuffey won’t be available for selection while Cairns, McMillan, Astle and Harris have retired from international cricket.

New Zealand and other countries with modestly paid players are now in danger of being gutted by the breakaway ICL, further damaging the standard of international cricket.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has set up the rival Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition, to begin in April, and is paying big money for international stars, including Australians, to be part of it, but players overlooked by the official IPL are joining the ICL.

The cricketing countries at greatest risk of being damaged are those that can least afford it and New Zealand is at the top of the list. Some players can earn more in a month playing with the ICL than for a full year playing for their country.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) is under enormous pressure from the Indian board to ban the six Kiwi players who took part in the inaugural ICL championship in India last month and is in a bind about what to do with Bond, who has signed to be part of an expanded ICL competition this year.

If NZC bans Bond he can sue for restraint of trade. If he is allowed to play in the ICL, the billion-dollar wrath of the Indian board will descend on the Kiwis, further damaging cricket in a country where it has been a marginal sport.

International players association chief executive Tim May made it clear the player’s body would protect the rights of players to earn a professional living, regardless of which competition they join.