Warwickshire batsman Ian Bell may have an easier task ahead on England's tour of New Zealand due to Shane Bond's absence from the opposition ranks - but he believes it is a bad sign for international cricket as a whole.

New Zealand's spearhead would have been the major danger to England's batsmen in the two Twenty20 internationals, five one-day internationals and three Test matches scheduled over the next two months.

But the news today that his contract with New Zealand Cricket had been terminated - which rules him out of contention for selection - because of his commitments with the rebel Indian Cricket League provides England with a major boost to their hopes of a successful tour.

The 32-year-old fast bowler had his deal annulled by mutual consent as he has signed up for the lucrative ICL on a three-year contract - a competition which is yet to be sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

A recent ruling by the ICC that players cannot be made available for such tournaments created an untenable position for both New Zealand Cricket and Bond, and denies one of the world's leading bowlers - he stands at number two in the world one-day rankings - the chance to play at the highest level.

"It's a good thing for us that he's not going to be playing, but he's also one of those guys that makes it very exciting to play international cricket and he's a guy who you want playing international cricket because it makes it well worth watching," said Bell, who played alongside Bond at Warwickshire during his spell as an overseas player in 2002.

"He's got a lot of variety, a very good slower ball and does swing it, certainly with the new ball. At Warwickshire he was a handful with the new ball and also playing against him a little in international cricket, I know why his record is so good.

"Where we are as a team, we're trying to build towards 2009 (for the Ashes) and it's important that we get momentum towards that. Looking at the fixture list, every country we're playing against, whether it's New Zealand or South Africa, you want to play against their full-strength team.

"You want to go out there and build towards Australia and you don't want anyone making excuses because you want to beat the best sides in front of you.

"He certainly adds that little bit extra to New Zealand when he's available and it's disappointing for the series because he's one of the best in world cricket."

Bond is the first major player considered at the peak of his powers to pledge his future to the ICL, and the situation would be comparable to England losing a player of the stature of Kevin Pietersen or Andrew Flintoff.

None of the English players to have featured in the event - Worcestershire's Vikram Solanki, Warwickshire's Darren Maddy and wicketkeepers Chris Read and Paul Nixon - could be regarded as key members of England's squad.

But for New Zealand, Bond's absence is a major loss with Bell stressing: "Any side would miss a player with a record like Shane Bond.

"After playing with him at Warwickshire, I know what an asset he is to a side. I used to field at short leg to him and I know that any side that doesn't have him as their spearhead will be at a loss.

"The one thing you can say about New Zealand, though, is that as a side they are a bunch of fighters and although it will be a loss to them, they are pretty gutsy guys and they will go out there and fight as hard as they can."

Bond's decision to choose the ICL at such an advanced stage of his career is perhaps an understandable one, particularly considering his lengthy injury record, but it is not something that would tempt Bell as he looks forward to an exciting 18 months which will culminate in the 2009 home Ashes series.

"I haven't been approached," stressed Bell. "I'm 25 years old, playing for England, and hopefully I've got a lot of international cricket ahead of me, so there would be no point in me looking elsewhere.

"I want to play for England for a long time and I'm not looking anywhere else to play my cricket. The major goal for me and the team is the 2009 Ashes and we've got a lot of big cricket on the way to that, and for all of us it's about building the momentum for that."

England face their first training session in Christchurch tomorrow as they build up to two one-day warm-up matches against Canterbury over the weekend, prior to the opening Twenty20 international in Auckland next Tuesday.