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Posts Tagged ‘shane bond’

The obvious point to make ahead of a New Zealand – Pakistan Test series is that the two sides have, on the face of it, diametrically opposed approaches. New Zealand are sometimes dull, usually reasonably efficient and often mediocre, whereas Pakistan are exciting, unpredictable, inconsistent and fleetingly brilliant.

Recently, though, New Zealand have been through a series of upheavals which the average Pakistan fan would not find it difficult to empathise with – a bloodless coup to depose the coach and misbehaving players, to name the most prominent. Shane Bond’s return to the Test side will provide a boost, although he is unlikely to be the player that he was two years ago, notably with regard to raw pace. Meanwhile, Jacob Oram’s retirement and Jesse Ryder‘s absence through injury mean that the overall balance of the side may take some time to get right.

Pakistan have (of course) been through upheavals themselves, with Younis Khan’s resignation, which was apparently at least partially motivated by a lack of support from players such as former skipper Shoaib Malik. New captain Mohammad Yousuf has not always seen eye-to-eye with Malik in the past, so there could still be some issues to resolve on that front. Adjusting to the low temperatures of November in New Zealand will also be a challenge, whilst Mohammad Asif‘s return to Test cricket following his drugs ban provides some welcome good news.

Pakistan’s recent Test form has been poor, and although New Zealand are in a ‘transitional period’, the home side will probably be slight favourites for the series win.

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Shane Bond looks set to return to Test cricket, and he won’t even need to wear a comedy disguise. Having cut all ties with the ICL, the Kiwi pace bowler has made himself available for selection by New Zealand.

The news has been welcomed by captain Daniel Vettori, given the injury problems that frustrated his side during their World Twenty20 campaign. Bond, however, says that he doesn’t expect to be recalled for the Black Caps’ upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.

With the ICL seemingly now a dead end, a number of ‘rebel’ players are making the transition back to mainstream cricket, with Bond arguably the player who was most missed by his international side during his exile.

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The Indian Cricket League, currently in limbo following the cancellation of its World Series in the wake of last year’s attacks in Mumbai, and apparently running seriously short of cash, has offered its Kiwi players the option of being released from their contracts.

Some of the New Zealanders involved, notably Shane Bond and Darryl Tuffey, have sacrified their international careers by getting involved with the ‘rebel’ ICL, and if they were to cut their ties with the competition, it could raise the possibility of them playing again for the Black Caps. Whilst Bond has talked down this possibility in the past, Tuffey is reportedly keen to represent his country once again.

Perhaps of greater interest for those outside of New Zealand are the implications of this news on the expected future of the ICL itself. With subcontinental cricket involving non-subcontinental players seemingly becoming an ever rarer sight for ‘security reasons’, and the global economy looking shakier than it has been in decades, can the world support two Indian Twenty20 leagues?

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In this season of goodwill to all, the ICC seem to have extended an olive branch to the rebel Indian Cricket League by holding talks with Subhash Chandra, the ICL’s owner.

Meetings like this have been held before, of course, but notable this time was the presence of former BCCI president and current ICC vice-president Sharad Pawar. This may be an indication of a softening in stance from the previously hard-line BCCI.
I think most cricket fans would like to see this issue resolved now, and I hope that meetings such as this will help bring about an end to the international exile and leper-like status imposed on the likes of Mohammad Yousuf and Shane Bond.

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Is the cold shoulder that the ICC (and the BCCI in particular) have given the ICL starting to thaw? After recent meetings between the ICC’s David Morgan and representatives from the Indian Cricket League comes news that BCCI president Shashank Manoha is to meet with the ICL’s Subhash Chandra.

As the ICL’s second season is now underway, these moves might be indicative of an end to the ‘fingers-in-the-ears, la-la-la I’m not listening’ approach that has been a major part of the BCCI’s apparent plan to grind the ICL into the dust. There’s even been talk of an IPL – ICL playoff, and the recent move by the Sri Lankan board to allow ICL-connected players to play domestic cricket again was far more in tune with the prevailing mood than Bangladesh’s heavy-handed approach.

Where all this leaves the likes of Shane Bond, who knows?

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As the County season is about to properly start, here’s my preview of County Championship Division One.

  • Kent
    Positives: Joe Denly looks exciting, plus they are Champions of the most popular form of cricket at the moment (that’s Twenty20, not Brockian Ultra-Cricket)
    Negatives: The bowlers are OK, but they aren’t of the standard that many other county attacks offer.
  • Lancashire
  • Positives: Ashes Hero Freddie Flintoff will actually play some games for Lancashire this year, and there are still more than enough wise old heads to suggest a decent chance of silverware.
    Negatives: The psychological damage of last year will be hard to overcome, and the average age of the side is about 56.

  • Nottinghamshire
    Positives: David Hussey, future Australia star, will score runs aplenty when he’s available, plus there will be occasional cameos from new signing Stuart ‘Ricky’ Broad.
    Negatives: Stephen Fleming’s captaincy skills will be missed, and there are a few concerns about the bowling when Sidebottom and Broad are away on England duty.

There may be a Division Two preview tomorrow, but there may not be if I can’t be bothered.

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The Indian Premier League is still making the headlines, with today’s announcement of a second auction later this month, possibly to involve some English players. Cricinfo’s Round Table are also discussing the subject, and Tim de Lisle is worried about all the money involved.

The ICL, meanwhile, is becoming a career graveyard. That the likes of Shane Bond loses his Test place, whilst his compatriots who have signed up to the IPL make even more money at seemingly no cost, hardly seems fair.

As for the possibility of English players being involved, there aren’t too many marquee names who aren’t centrally contracted or heavily tied to counties, so there would probably a preponderance of faded stars and also-rans.

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