Indian cash trumps Kiwi pride

Shane Bond, one of the world’s best and most menacingly quick bowlers, laughs with surprising ease, seemingly undeterred by the fact that he has just been banned from international cricket.

If some expected Bond to mourn the end of his Test career as New Zealand begin their tour of England, they might be taken aback to hear his relish as he moves from the hushed citadels of cricket to the noisily extravagant Indian leagues.

Bond believes he has embraced the sport’s future while transforming his own life by choosing the Delhi Giants—one of the new Twenty20 teams formed under the banner of the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL)—over New Zealand. Bond laughs lightly at the suggestion that, at the very least, he will double his income: “It’s well more than that.”

The 32-year-old Kiwi, now smiling knowingly, parries a cheeky question about the exact size of his contract with Delhi.
“I’m not allowed to tell you. But I’d have to play for years for New Zealand to earn the same amount of money—and play in every game. So the decision to go to India is a no-brainer.”

With the ICL having already raised more than R15-billion in television rights, Bond is emphatic that the sport can never be the same again. “There will be turmoil at first but if there are people who want to put money into the game they should be encouraged. It’s exciting and a great time to be a player. But it does need to get sorted out because you don’t want the game’s credibility taking a hit.”

There have been severe repercussions for trailblazers such as Bond. He and other Test cricketers who have joined the ICL have been banned from the international game, unlike their contemporaries in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

As New Zealand’s only real fast bowler of note, Bond will be badly missed this summer. He shrugs at the irony that he has had to fight to be allowed to fulfil a six-week contract to play for the English team, Hampshire, while his international captain, Daniel Vettori, and four other New Zealand cricketers have been allowed to delay their arrival on tour to appear in the IPL.

“All the players feel it’s unfair. The plan was to play against England at home and go to India before coming here on tour, just like those guys. It’s disappointing, especially in a country like New Zealand where we don’t have the talent base. It’s a bad situation for New Zealand and it’s not great for international cricket either.”—Â

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