The Sydney Thunder have swooped to poach highly-rated coach Shane Bond from his role as an assistant with the Brisbane Heat to fill their head coach vacancy.
Bond had been part of a close-knit all-Kiwi coaching team under former Black Caps teammate Daniel Vettori at the Brisbane Heat, where he had held various roles for the past eight years. An assistant since BBL|05, Bond had been under contract with the Heat until BBL|09.
Now, however, the 42-year-old will trade Heat teal for Thunder green and has signed a three-year deal to helm the BBL|05 title-winners, tasked with returning them to the upper echelons of the competition.
"The chance to lead a programme at a club which is full of great people on and off the field was very appealing," Bond said in a statement.
"I want to win trophies and have a squad of players and coaches that other teams are envious of.
"There's some exciting young players in the Thunder squad as well as some experienced old bulls, if we can blend that together we'll have a successful team."
The Thunder parted ways with title-winning coach Paddy Upton at the end of BBL|07 after two seasons where they had failed to reach the finals. Upton had guided the team to their maiden title in BBL|05, but a last-placed finish in BBL|06 and a sixth-place finish last season with four wins from 10 games saw him depart the club.
Bond is taking his first role as a head coach, but has a wealth of experience and growing stature in coaching circles since his international career ended in 2010.
Bond worked with England during last summer's Magellan Ashes as a Kookaburra-ball specialist, and has held bowling coach roles with various clubs, including the Mumbai Indians, and notably with New Zealand at the 2015 World Cup as they charged into the final.
The Kiwi has also been a mentor to various individual bowlers, including Australia quick James Pattinson in recent times after the Victorian had the same spine surgery that Bond underwent to prolong his playing career.
Pattinson has been linked with a move away from the Melbourne Renegades, which could leave the Thunder well-placed to secure the services of the 27-year-old tearaway.
Bond said it was a difficult decision to exit the Brisbane Heat, where he and Vettori had long-term plans, but the lure of a head coach role proved too strong to turn down.
"It will be sad to say goodbye to the Brisbane Heat, they're a great franchise who have been very good to me," Bond said.
"I've been a bowling and assistant coach for eight years, but you're always thinking about how you'd do things yourself if you were leading a side.
"I love to coach, not just manage people and I enjoy making players better cricketers."
Heat coach Vettori paid tribute to his close friend turned coaching adversary.
"While it is a shame to lose him from our club, I'm personally very happy for Bondy. He'll do a great job although hopefully not against us when we come up against them in BBL|08," Vettori said.
"He's done some superb work with our bowlers over the years and their careers will have benefited from his input with them."
Bond terrorised Australia in one-day cricket, taking 44 wickets in 17 matches, with three five-wicket hauls including the memorable 6-23 in the Super Six stage of the 2003 World Cup in Port Elizabeth.
High on the list of priorities for Bond will be to resolve the Thunder's international recruits for BBL|08. The club last summer signed New Zealand compatriot Mitchell McClenaghan, who drew criticism from an unhappy supporter base, and England's Jos Buttler, who was later replaced by Carlos Brathwaite when called up for international duty.
Buttler hit 202 runs in six matches at 33.66 with a strike rate above 143, while McCleneghan finished his first Big Bash season with 11 wickets at an economy rate of 9.17, one of the highest in the tournament.
The Thunder are thought to be keen to revist ties with Jamaica allrounder Andre Russell. The Caribbean T20 hero was a star in the Thunder's title win but missed all of last season while serving a 12-month ban for breaching drug testing 'whereabouts' rules.
He returned to action in domestic cricket before starring in the early stages of the Pakistan Super League before a hamstring injury curtailed his tournament. However, he is expected to take his place in the Indian Premier League with Kolkata Knight Riders and has resumed training.
Also linked with Big Bash contracts are South Africa quick Morne Morkel, who will retire from international cricket at the end of the current Test series against Australia, while rising Pakistan seamer Shaheen Afridi, who turns 18 next month, has indicated he is in negotiations with at least two Big Bash clubs. The teenager took 5-4 in a PSL match for the Lahore Qalanders earlier this month.
The Thunder have just six players currently signed on for BBL|08, including international stars Pat Cummins and Usman Khawaja. However with uncertainty around how the 2018-19 summer schedule yet to be resolved, it is unclear what impact players with heavy international commitments will be able to have in the BBL. Khawaja played three games in BBL|07, while Cummins did not feature at all.
Former Australia international Shane Watson had a three-year deal expire at the end of BBL|07 and has not yet signed a new deal. Ahead of last summer, Watson said he would remain open to playing on in the Big Bash, saying: "We'll just see how things pan out this summer and if I'm still loving playing and I still feel like I can contribute. If the Thunder still feel like I can contribute then I'll keep going."
Watson was the Thunder's best in BBL|07, scoring 331 runs to finish as the tournament's fifth-highest run-getter. He has been playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League, where earlier this month he hit an unbeaten 90 from 58 balls, and was bought by the Chennai Super Kings for this year's IPL for A$775,000 after a three-way bidding war.
Brisbane Heat general manager Andrew McShea said Bond departed with the club's best wishes.
"He forged a reputation as an astute coach and tactician as well as being a cheerful, hard-working and well-liked member of the club," McShea said.
"We're sorry to see him leave but are pleased that he has the opportunity to take on a head coaching role in the BBL. His departure means we will be looking to bolster our off-field team which we will address soon."
Thunder BBL|08 squad: Fawad Ahmed, Pat Cummins, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green, Usman Khawaja, Kurtis Patterson.