Yorker-man Trent Boult was only twelve back then. The master of the short-pitched one, Neil Wagner just fifteen, and the ever- consistent Tim Southee had just entered teen-hood. In 2001, exactly three years before the dangerous Tsunami wrecked much of the sub-continent, a lightening bolt struck the world of cricket. It was dangerous. Struck the batsmen with vicious pace and was cricket’s version of a natural disaster hunting those who fearlessly wielded the willow. The name was Bond, Shane Bond.
And rather interestingly, this Bond arrived on the scene exactly a year ago before the release of a global spectacle- Die Another Day- the then-most expensive Bond film.
Shane Bond arrived long before the idea of T20 cricket was even conceived. As a matter of fact, even before there came to exist something like PowerPlays. At a time where Test cricket flourished happily alongside ODIs, with the ICC never finding itself ‘pushed’ to find new ways of reviving the longest format, there came along a man who cut short the stay of batsmen on the pitch.
And factually speaking, staying true to his other ‘job’- that of policing in New Zealand, for he was an actual cop, Shane Bond administered hostile spells almost as if he was the cop or the man-in-charge on the crease.
It didn’t matter to him who he was up against, whether Hussey, Ponting, or even Dravid and Lara.
You know you are up to something special when upon your debut, starring against a star-studded line-up featuring a match-winning troika of Watson-Ponting-Hussey, you end up with a four-for, helping your side overcome its most dangerous and popular opponent.
Nearly two decades ago, at a packed Wellington stadium, it appeared that the Aussies ran into a truck that dismantled all its four-wheels.
Quite like the ardent Sachin fan may never forget his final curtain call at 2013 Wankhede, Bond’s ODI debut, may hold reverence for time immemorial. He didn’t give away, but was somehow scored of; 28 runs came of nearly 10 overs at 2.8.
But what truly made Shane Bond with fans and critics alike wasn’t just pure pace and the nagging accuracy. It was his sheer miserly economy with which New Zealand’s fastest pacer in all of its cricket history operated.
And make no mistake, cricket didn’t afford a red carpet to Shane Bond for two of his strongest competitors in the game were also at their prime during the unforgettable 2000s.
Though, even as Brett Lee– 380 ODI wickets- and Shoaib- 247 ODI wickets enjoyed 233 and 100 more wickets than the Canterbury pacer, Shane Bond cleaned up his marvellous opponents in an area where they didn’t seem to the answers.
For someone who contested in 82 ODIs and faced some of the finest batsmen of their era, Shane Bond ended on a better economy rate than any notable pacer around- 4.29.
That being said, what mesmerised about Shane Bond wasn’t the fact that he ran into batsmen with pace; he actually steamed into batsmen putting all his shoulder power into play aiming for the stumps.
Of the 4,295 times he rushed in popping crease, he ensured batsmen would just not score on 522 deliveries, i.e., almost an entire innings of an ODI contest.
But like a true athlete driven to excel, Shane Bond reserved one of his best-ever spells for the highest stage of the contest: the 2003 World Cup, most remembered for Brian Lara’s mesmerising century against South Africa and Ricky Ponting hitting the pulp out of the Indian bowling attack.
The whole of Port Elizabeth on March 11 arose to a sensational show of swing bowling, an effort so effective and pain-inducing that even the original Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram would’ve given Shane Bond a pat on the back.
Before rocketing out New Zealand in their brave defence of a paltry 208, the Fleming-led side making a terrible 112, it wasn’t New Zealand versus Australia contest; it was Shane Bond against Australia.
Then a 28-year-old, Shane Bond tore into an Australian line-up very much like a gun-slinging Clint Eastwood rampaging the merciless outlaws in a Sergio Leone classic.
There was trouble for the most powerful team in the world and all of it at the behest of one marauding force. Together, Gilchrist, Hayden, Ponting, and Martyn accounted for just 56 runs between them.
Shane Bond firing bullets into the chest of a line-up most were scared to face.
Two years later, in a triangular series, Bond was at his best again, his victims this time the Indians. He ensured that a line-up with Dravid, Sehwag, Kaif, Dhoni and Yuvraj fell like ninepins at 164 when it was only 216 that was required.
Today, if you were to run past figures of 9 overs-3 maidens-19 runs- 6 wickets, you could be fooled into thinking it was a Test spell.
But for Bond, 9 fifers across the two formats, it was another day well-spent in an ODI.
On another occasion, he fell Brian Lara of all people to the ground, a nasty bouncer nearly taking Lara’s right ear. Upon getting up, Lara looked relieved akin to a soldier who smiles sensing ceasefire.
Yet in doing all such great feats, Shane Bond never seemed exhausted or even lost the trace of familiar back-breaking pace. This is when his was a cricketing resume replete with as many successful spells as heart-crushing injuries.
He nearly missed 1000 days of active duties for New Zealand for he was, often going under the knife on more occasions than haunting batsmen in a live contest.
When a shoulder injury troubled but was dealt with, then a calf injury took over. When his knees hurt but got better, he suffered from lower back fractures.
Yet, the handsome looking Bond, never lost the enthusiasm for the sport albeit calling it quits in 2009 having the will but also unfortunately a rapidly fragile frame to contest along with it.
His has been a career that, to this day, appears to prevail in the realm of the ‘what-might?’
What might have happened had Bond been able to attack with his body supporting his fierce intent? What if the load of injuries had not cut short what was clearly a bolt of lightning hitherto rarely experienced in the world of cricket?