Six months after he turned his back on New Zealand cricket, Shane Bond has said he misses the game and is priming himself for a return to first-class cricket for Canterbury next season. The ICL is willing to release some of its foreign players from their contracts so they can play international cricket for a short period, and Bond was hopeful that his international ban would come to and end.
Bond has decided not to play in England over the winter, with his daughter starting school in a few months, and said he would use his spare time to get back to full fitness. "I've told [my wife] Trace I want to play another couple of seasons and I've told the Canterbury coach I want to play four-day cricket next season," Bond told the Sunday Star-Times. "I'm going to try to get as fit as I can over the winter and try to play for as long as I can.
"I miss that cricket; even though it's the hardest cricket, it's the most rewarding, and that's why I'd like to play again next summer here. Physically things went well this summer but I wasn't at the height of my fitness. So that's why I'm having this winter off, to get back to the same level of fitness I used to have, because I still think I can bowl quick and keep going for another couple of years."
The ICL had cancelled its March-April international programme due to the deepening economic recession and non-availability of Pakistan players. The unauthorised league has also placed on hold its payments to several players pending a performance appraisal, Bond included.
"I'm a firm believer in keeping the contracts intact. If they can't fulfill their contract it's an opportunity to move, but if they can then I will stay with them," said Bond. "As far as the politics goes, it's out of my hands. Things can change pretty quick to be fair, so all I can do is keep myself in the best shape to make a decision one way or the other."
Last month Justin Vaughan, the chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, said that if the players end their association with the unofficial league, they will be immediately available for selection to the New Zealand national side. Besides fast bowlers Bond and Daryll Tuffey, the other active New Zealand players who are part of the ICL are allrounder Andre Adams and batsman Lou Vincent.
Bond did not expect an automatic return to the national side, whose next assignment is the ICC World Twenty20 in June before a tour to Sri Lanka in August. "If I decided to play again [for New Zealand] I'd have to earn my spot, I wouldn't expect an open door policy to get me back in; you have to get there on merit," he said.