Cricket: Bond's plea: Leave one-dayers alone

By Anendra Singh

The endless tinkering with rules in the one-day international game frustrates Shane Bond.

"They are trying to make it more like T20 cricket and it's not T20 cricket," says the Black Caps bowling coach and former international strike bowler before tonight's second day-nighter against England at McLean Park, Napier, which starts at 2pm.

The 37-year-old feels teams don't always have to score 350 runs to make ODIs exciting.

He believes the fact the first one-dayer in Hamilton and matches at the last ODI World Cup, which yielded totals around 250, prove his point.

"It doesn't have to be a slog-fest so I just hope they stop tinkering with the rules and just allow it to be a good, even contest, really," says the former Devon Hotel Central Districts Stags bowling coach, preferring the "three-three-three" format.

The longer the format, the more it appeals to Bond, amid calls from some quarters to scrap ODIs.

"Even watching the game the other night [first ODI in Hamilton], it brings more skill into the play and you've got to understand the game better to make decisions on the big impacts because the game goes on longer."

He describes his visit to Napier akin to returning to a second home.

"I keep following the CD boys and I see they're doing well," he says of the Alan Hunt-coached Stags who, as Plunket Shield leaders, host the defending-champion Northern Districts Knights from today at Saxton Oval, Nelson, in the final round of four-day matches.

CD are nine points ahead of 2012-13 HRV Cup champions Otago Volts but an outright win will be enough to secure this summer's first-class bragging rights.

Bond often calls Hunt and assistant coach Lance Hamilton to discuss players such as Doug Bracewell and Adam Milne when they return to CD after an international stint.

"I have a foot in a couple of camps, Canterbury being one and CD another, so I'm pleased to see they [CD] are doing well with the big last round coming up, so I hope they'll go okay."

Injuries are always an issue but the Black Caps now have a good cluster of fast bowlers. Fixing the walking wounded will no doubt make selection more of a challenge for the coaching stable.

Among those who are on the verge of repair are CD's Milne, Ben Wheeler, Bevan Small and Mark Gillespie.

Mitchell McClenaghan, who picked up a strain in the first ODI against England in Hamilton on Sunday night, is the latest casualty.

While impressed with the input of the Caps squad bowlers in the past five months, Bond feels they are still a relatively young and inexperienced group.

Coaches and selectors identify what format suits players, so Bay's Bracewell is earmarked for test matches.

"I think you have to take the chance out sometimes in the season to take guys out to keep them refreshed, give them a break, keep them strong and put them back in to balance the workload of a whole lot of bowlers.

"I don't think that limits him, or him, playing in the shorter formats such as the IPL.

"Often players have done quite well in the IPL purely based on what they have done in test matches.

"Doug is young, so we've got to make sure we look after him because it's a hard job touring around playing all three formats," Bond says, adding not too many bowlers are doing that in any top teams either.

While Daniel Vettori has had a mortgage on spinning for the Black Caps, the veteran's niggly injuries have opened the door to myriad tweakers to roll their arms in different formats.

On the flip side, Bond agrees recruiting a specialist coach will boost spinners' stocks as well.

"All places are up for grabs, so I can't argue with that because the more expertise you can get around guys, the better.

"At some point, I'd love to have someone with spin background to help the guys," he says of Nathan McCullum, Bruce Martin, Jeetan Patel, Ronnie Hira and the likes in the squad.

While Bond is of a speed merchant's ilk, he hastens to add he understands the mental pressures spinners endure.

"The longer I see those guys, talk to them and see them bowl day in, day out, the better I understand what they do and where their strengths and weaknesses lie so I can bounce ideas off them."

It's a work in progress for Bond, who believes spinners have a different mentality to fast bowlers.

The Black Caps team are "fine", he says after the turbulence regarding the captaincy issue involving the dumping of Ross Taylor amid revelations later that Bond had written a letter to the New Zealand Cricket board expressing his reservations about who was telling the truth in the public relations disaster.

"You know, like any work environment, there are pressures and strains, but we're pros so we've got to get on with our jobs," says Bond.

"My job, first and foremost, is to help my players get as much as they can out of themselves to make sure they can get out on the field to perform the best they possibly can.

"With everything else on, that hasn't changed."

His role as national bowling coach is challenging, especially on tours.

While enjoyable, it's been tough.

"I'm learning - getting the job and having three days before jumping into it and not having enough prep time - so there's a little bit of trial and error, I suppose."

With the conclusion of the England tour, the ensuing three-month break will be a godsend.

"It'll be a chance to take a deep breath, sit back and reflect on how I've gone and identify areas I need to do better."

He counts his stars in having a good wife (Tracey Bond) who's used to his transient lifestyle and looks after their three children while supporting his career.

A former police officer in Christchurch, he accepts this phase is going to be the hardest but is rapidly doing its course.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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