Shane Bond

'I never wanted to let the batsman think I'd eased off'

Shane Bond never took his foot off the pedal, and didn't ever want to. He looks back at life in the fast lane

Inrerview by Andrew Fidel Fernando

"I always had a sense of when the batsman didn't like facing me" © Getty Images

Sir Richard Hadlee is who I wanted to be, growing up. I wanted to bowl like him, take wickets like him. I grew up watching videos of him day after day. I knew his career like the back of my hand.

I was a bad one for nerves before the game. I'd get nervous the morning of games, and I liked to keep things pretty low key. But once I had the ball, I had a real sense of calmness. I was ready to play.

As a kid I remember always wanting to bowl fast. Just going back and not having a mark because you didn't have a run-up - you just walked backwards, and then ran in and bowled.

I always had a sense of when the batsman didn't like facing me, and that gave me a boost.

When you look at the Australian team that played through the 2000s, not only did they have a great side, they had a great side underneath. You know, the whole A team pushed them really hard. We didn't have that in New Zealand.

When I gave up rugby during the winter, I never compensated any of that training with anything in terms of gym work, so by the time the cricket season rolled around, I probably wasn't as fit as I was. That was probably the beginning of back problems for me.

I was never verbal but I definitely enjoyed bowling bouncers and that sort of intimidation, when you've got a batsman on the back foot.

I spent a lot of time watching opponents bat. Not just dismissals, but I'd watch the three or four overs leading up to dismissals, watching how they bat against fast bowlers and how they got them out, so that all the games I played, I was very clear in what I thought I needed to do.

In the police, I realised what a sheltered life I'd led. You see a different side of society. You get to see some stuff that isn't great, that you wouldn't normally get to see. It certainly hardens you up a bit, steels you, puts you into pressure, where you're forced to deal with some pretty uncomfortable stuff. I suppose in terms of cricket that was pretty good for me, because I was a little bit soft.

Before I had been picked for New Zealand, I remember having a day in Christchurch where I'd bowled quick on a flat wicket. My first-class coach, Gareth Doyle, said to me: "Mate, that's as quick as anything going around and I'm going to give [head selector] Sir Richard a call." Another time, after I bowled to Dion Nash in a first-class game, he said, "That spell you bowled, that's international class." Those were crucial boosts to my confidence.

Now that I'm a coach, people ask, "Why would you want to try this lifestyle again?" But I always loved touring with the guys. I think my wife's probably got it harder.

My high school looked after the sightscreens and scoreboards at Lancaster Park, so during first-class games I took most of the summer off and sat down and did the scoreboard operation or did sightscreens. I absolutely loved that job.

The constant 007 references in the media annoyed me after a while. But I was glad that everyone generally just called me "Bondy" to my face.

I've got photos of [former New Zealand football captain and Tottenham Hotspurs defender] Ryan Nelsen and I playing cricket in primary school. I was a couple of years older than Ryan but he was that good, he was still playing with me. He was tiny back then.

People grow up dreaming of playing international cricket, but there's a lot of hours when it's not fun, it's just hard.

Stephen Fleming was tactically very good, but his best asset was the clarity he gave us. Early in my career, he'd say, "This is how I want you to go about your work." As I got older and better, he took the reins off. He put a lot of faith in me and put a lot of pressure on me when we needed to get wickets. I thought that got the best out of me. He handled me very well.

I thought 35 was a pretty good age to retire. I haven't missed playing at all. I've bowled a couple of times in the nets and hate it.

Being a cop was something else I always wanted to do when I was younger. The idea of turning up to work and not knowing what would happen excited me. I'm lucky I've got to do two jobs that I wanted to do growing up as a kid and dreamed about doing.

The advice I'd give cricketers just starting their international careers is that when you finish, you want to look back and know that you did everything you could to be as good as you can be.

One of the best things about the Indian leagues is that wherever you are in the world, you'll have someone you can call and catch up with - your mates.

"Being in the police certainly hardens you up a bit, steels you. I suppose in terms of cricket that was pretty good for me, because I was a little bit soft"

I had a pretty simple motto. I would just keep running in even when I was knackered. I remember never wanting to let the batsman feel I'd eased off. I remember thinking, "Well, if it's not going to be me, it's going to be no one." That was probably learned from Chris Cairns. When we were playing Australia earlier in my career he said, "They're just going to keep coming hard at you, so you just have to keep coming hard at them back."

We got smashed around the park on my Test debut, against Australia in Hobart. It was sort of in slow motion. But I loved it. It was just amazing to be competing with those guys who I'd watched.

Chris Martin was a lot like me, in that sledging was never a big part of what we did. We grew up playing cricket together, where we knew we were the more insular sort of bowlers. We spoke about, as we got older, perhaps the need for us to be more outwardly verbal. I never got to that point. I don't think Chris has got to that point either.

I was 21 when I started first-class cricket. But after a while more problems kept on coming with my back through that period, so I thought, "I'm never going to make it" and headed off on another career path.

I remember bowling [Adam] Gilchrist at Adelaide in my first ODI series. That was probably the turning point. I thought, "If I can knock this guy over then I'm away." Before that I was just pleased if I didn't go for four. After that wicket, my thinking just turned around more to, "Right, where am I going to bowl now and how am I going to get this person out?" That was a big change for me. Gilchrist has said that yorker I bowled to him was one of the best he's ever faced. Considering I wasn't trying to bowl a yorker to him, that was pretty cool! It was a length ball gone wrong.

On traffic duty, I remember once directing traffic the wrong way down a one-way street.

I found the 2007 World Cup campaign when we reached the semis to be an underachievement. There was nothing stopping us from winning.

When you can run through a list of great batsmen and say you got them all out, that gives me a lot of satisfaction. Tendulkar, Dravid, Kallis, Ponting, Lara - those guys.

Toning down my pace never appealed to me. Bowling fast was what it was all about for me. Even though I had the sort of frustrating career that I had, I am happy that I never made the decision to bowl a bit slower and try to make things easier that way.

After I got a secure income, getting injured in cricket really didn't bother me too much. So I went back to first-class and said, "Right, I'm going to get stuck in every day and play. When I bowl I'm going to bowl flat out." I had a better appreciation of cricket, having had a real job.

I think the hardest thing about playing in the ICL was motivation. All my motivation for cricket was playing for New Zealand.

The worst part about injuries is coming back. There is just so much work to do to get yourself back to scratch, and it's all hard. The nice thing about being a coach is that I can talk guys through that mental side of it and understand what they are dealing with.

My first Test wicket was Steve Waugh, out lbw. I think it was a bit high and going over the wicket, but I thought I'd give it a shout, and it went my way.

The yorker that wasn't meant to be: Bond gets Gilchrist bowled in 2002

The yorker that wasn't meant to be: Bond gets Gilchrist bowled in 2002 Tony Lewis / © Getty Images

When I started, I didn't have much of a game. I had no style. All I did was just run in and bowl flat out, and I suppose I was lucky because I just got wickets through some good bowling and a bit of luck. At some point it just clicked and I got confidence and I never really lost it after that through the rest of my career. I sort of belonged.

The way I dreamed of getting batsmen out was to knock him out so that he fell onto the stumps. That would have been pretty good. It never happened.

I've always enjoyed watching the best fast bowlers bowl. I played against Brett Lee when I was about 15, over in Australia. I always thought the way he bowled was aggressive. Always enjoyed watching Dale Steyn bowl, and people like Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff as well. I learnt a lot about my own bowling just by watching those sort of guys.

I didn't like the underdog tag because it almost felt like winning was an overachievement. We were either good enough or we weren't. I think sometimes you can overstate wins, and if we lose it's, "Oh we were never supposed to win anyway."

A lot of my injuries just went "bang", and they were quite serious injuries. Mostly there was never any warning it was going to happen. It just happened. After a while I just accepted that I was always going to be a little fragile because of the style that I bowled.

I don't think South Africa are chokers. They've been the same as us in World Cups. We've been good enough to win World Cups, but we weren't prepared to push ourselves as hard as we could have. Looking back, if we'd been prepared to say, "How hard can we train and prepare?" you never know what we might have been able to achieve.

Every team goes through rebuilding phases and has new players come in. You can't stay in one place all the time. I think that's the difference between this New Zealand team and the one I played in.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here