New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond has joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) in a move that could jeopardise his international career.
"Shane Bond has signed up," said senior ICL official Ashish Kaul on Friday. "It's a three-year contract that he has with the Indian Cricket League," the executive vice-president of ICL promoters Essel Group added.
Bond is widely regarded as New Zealand's best fast bowler after Richard Hadlee and his departure would be a huge blow to the national team.
The 32-year-old has taken 79 wickets in 17 tests at an average of 22.39 but is unlikely to play for his country again after New Zealand Cricket instructed selectors to consider other players over those who have joined the unofficial league.
Bond becomes the seventh New Zealand international to join the ICL, which is not sanctioned by the International Cricket Council.
All-rounders Chris Cairns, Nathan Astle, Chris Harris and Craig McMillan, batsman Hamish Marshall and bowler Daryl Tuffey took part in the recent breakaway Twenty20 league.
Bond, presently injured, is the biggest draw among current international players to have signed up for lucrative ICL, a body bankrolled by the controllers of India's largest listed media firm.
Media reports speculated that Bond's three-year contract was worth $800,000. Kaul did not confirm the amount.
Financed by Essel Group, which controls media firm Zee Telefilms, ICL are seen to be challenging the national board's monopoly of the game in cricket-obsessed India.
After successfully organising their inaugural tournament late last year, the ICL announced a series of events in 2008.
The cash-rich Indian board meanwhile roll out their multi-million dollar Indian Premier League (IPL) in April which has nearly 50 top international players in its line-up.
The ICL, meanwhile, has recruited retired batting greats Brian Lara of West Indies and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq.
They also have on board ex-internationals from South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and England players such as Vikram Solanki, Chris Read and Paul Nixon.