Bound for glory

Shane Bond's methods, from the run-up to the release, are as clean as a whistle and the paceman scalped 17 wickets in eight games.-Pic. V. V. KRISHNAN

HE'S got a clean action and he bowls genuinely fast. Bound for glory Shane Bond surely is, a cricketer on the fast lane.

One of the three quickest contemporary pacemen, along with Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar, this Bond is a thing of beauty. While eyebrows have been raised over the actions of the Australian and the Pakistani, Bond's methods, from the run-up to the release, are as clean as a whistle.

A fact that clearly sets him apart among the modern-day pace predators. While Bond is aesthetically pleasing, he represents a distinct threat to the batsmen; a wonderful amalgam of muscle and craft.

Someone who has added so much to the Kiwi attack, providing it with the much-needed firepower. Here was a very different New Zealand spearhead who could actually crash through defences, run through sides.

It was the presence of Bond that provided the Kiwis with much hope as they set out to South Africa. If Stephen Fleming aspired to hold aloft the elusive World Cup, Bond would have to do the demolition job.

The policeman turned paceman did just that and his burst against Australia in the Super Sixes clash at Port Elizabeth was indeed a red hot one; he achieved both speed and movement at a fearsome pace off a fullish length. He finished with six for 23 off 10 relentlessly probing overs, breaking the back of the Australian top and middle-order even as Ricky Ponting's side reeled at 84 for seven. The Kiwis were cock-a-hoop, Bond was the toast, and a semifinal spot no longer appeared a mirage. In fact, it was only a step away.

The resilient Michael Bevan was joined by the spirited Andy Bichel and Bond ran out of overs. With the principal danger out of the way the Aussies crossed the 200-run mark. The score proved beyond the reach of the Kiwis with Lee — the match indeed was a showdown between two pace terminators — cutting a swathe through New Zealand in his second spell, sending down reverse yorkers at will, like Bond had done earlier in the day.

Bond must have been disappointed that evening. However, he unleashed another blistering spell, against India in their last Super Sixes match at Centurion. The Kiwis in a `must-win' situation had been skittled out for 146, and this meant Bond would be firing on all cylinders.

Indeed, he stung, snaring Virender Sehwag outside the off-stump and castling Sourav Ganguly with a vicious yorker that left the left-hander bamboozled. The Kiwis were in search of a life-line and Bond was charged up. Had 'keeper Brendon McCullum not spilled a regulation offering off Rahul Dravid — the Indians might have been reduced to 23 for four — Bond could well have made major inroads. However, that opportunity was gone and the time was up for the Kiwis in the competition.

Bond scalped 17 in eight games (at 17.94) in the 2003 World Cup and had New Zealand not chosen to forfeit the game in Nairobi it would have been a lot more, and who knows, the Kiwis might have progressed to the semifinal and beyond.

In an outfit of efficient performers he is a clear match-winner. When Bond's on song, it's not sweet music for the batsmen.

S. Dinakar