A memorable spell: Shane Bond vs Australia, 2003 WC
Australia were called the “The Invincibles”, the undisputed kings of cricket, for the major part of the last decade. They induced such fear in the opposition that most of the battles were won even before they started. But there were some unassuming heroes who have given them a run for their money. One of them was the ruggedly handsome and fiercely competitive New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond, who can be included in the list of the most fearsome fast bowlers of the 90s and compared with the likes of Brett Lee and Dale Steyn, though the numbers weren’t quite there, owing to the injuries that he had to deal with throughout his career.
His fiery spell against the mighty Aussies in the 2003 World Cup almost put them out of the tournament and would have resulted in a blot on the otherwise spotless record for the world beaters. He opened up a chink in their armour and almost went past them but the resilience of Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel prevailed in the end.
It was a memorable day in the Super Eight stage. All the wickets were taken by fast bowlers that day. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee led the way for Australia whereas Shane Bond did the honours for New Zealand. The proceedings were started off by Bond himself, removing Matthew Hayden in the third over. It was a peach of a delivery, pitching on the off stump and swinging slightly away from the southpaw, which caught his outside edge and was safely pouched behind the wickets.
The next wicket was that of the dangerous wicket keeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist was timing the ball well, before Bond got him with a delivery that pitched on the leg stump and straightened enough to trap him in front of the wicket.
Ponting was struggling to get going, with the ball not coming on to the bat properly. He was beaten by the fast bowlers on quite a few occasions and never seemed comfortable against Bond. Bond and Ponting had a history, with the fast bowler getting the better of the veteran batsman a record six times in six ODI’s. Such was the dominance of the bowler that even the best were left clueless.
Bond bowled one outside off-stump, hitting a good length. The ball was aided by the surface and bounced higher and took the edge of Ponting’s bat when he attempted to play the cut shot. His uncomfortable stay in the middle ended like that.
Damien Martyn was the next to go, fishing outside the off-stump to a length ball that just swung enough to take the outside edge. Bond was getting fiercer with every passing delivery and it was Martyn this time, who felt the wrath of his pace. He had no clue as to what was happening, even though he was set, playing at 31.
The Australians, who were used to giving it to the opponents, were on the receiving end for a change and Bond made sure that no one forgot it in a hurry. He went on to pick the wicket of Brad Hogg the very next ball. Brad Hogg had no chance against an in-swinging yorker that came from nowhere to hit his pads. He was caught plumb in front of the wicket and was given out, leg before wicket.
Bond came back, an over later to snap the wicket of Ian Harvey to complete his tally of six wickets in the match. Had he bowled an extra three overs, he could have easily wrapped up the Australians with the form that he was in. He was bowling with such ferocity that could have been compared to the silent rage of the Hulk.
Shane Bond put the Australian batsmen to test, making them look like mere mortals for a change. This spell was one of the best in the history of cricket and so was the bowler. The speciality of Bond is the amount of control he possessed even while bowling tear-away pace. He could swing the ball both ways and was lethal on his day. His yorkers and slower balls were excellent additions to his armoury later on in his career, and this mixing of pace ensured that the batsmen always remained on his toes.
Bond was ill-fated to fall victim to constant injuries. He could have been one of the game’s greatest had he maintained his fitness throughout his career. Even though he played a limited number of matches, he was hailed as one of the best bowlers by the critics during his days.
Shane Bond might not be as famous as Glenn Mcgrath or a Wasim Akram, but he is up there with them when it comes to talent. He was certainly a bowler for all seasons.