Bond retires from Tests

WELLINGTON: Dynamic but injury-prone New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond announced his retirement from Test cricket today, saying his body was no longer up to the rigours of the five-day game.

“It’s been a tough call, because Test cricket remains the ultimate form of the game, but I’m comfortable I’ve made the right choice,” the 34-year-old said. Bond’s latest comeback in the Test series against Pakistan ended after the first Test — in which he took eight wickets — when an abdominal muscle tear ruled him out of the remaining two matches.

“I’ve worked really hard to get back to Test match fitness — it’s what I’ve been working towards for the past two years — and I feel I gave as much as I could,” Bond said. “But looking back, so many of my injuries have come during Test cricket. Unfortunately my body just won’t let me continue to play at that level, given the workload and demands of Test cricket.”

Bond played only 18 Tests after his debut in 2001 because of a series of injuries and his involvement last year in the rebel Indian Cricket League. But his pace and swing brought him 87 Test wickets at the impressive average of 22.09. He took five wickets in an innings on five occasions, the most recent against Pakistan in Dunedin last month after his two-year Test absence.

Bond said he remained committed to playing one-day internationals for New Zealand. “This way I hope I’ve got a better chance of continuing to play. I hope I’ll be able to continue to contribute to the team and to New Zealand cricket fans for a while yet.”

He is aiming to rejoin New Zealand for the limited-overs matches against Australia, which start with two Twenty20 internationals in late February. New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said he understood Bond’s decision. “Of course we’re disappointed that he won’t be part of the Test line-up, but New Zealand Cricket supports his decision to focus on limited-overs cricket and hopes that this decision will prolong his international career,” he said. “He remains one of the best fast bowlers in the international game and we’re delighted that he’s doing all he can to keep playing.”