Speedster Neil Wagner quits international cricket at a teary press conference

Wagner confirmed his retirement in a press-conference. (Source: X.com)

New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner has announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect.

The 37-year-old revealed his decision on Tuesday, just ahead of the Test series against arch-rivals Australia at the Basin Reserve on Tuesday.

Despite being included in the squad for the two home Tests against Australia led by Pat Cummins, Wagner was informed by head coach Gary Stead that he would not feature in either match.

In an emotional press conference held at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, Wagner fought back tears as he confirmed his retirement from the international arena after his 64th Test, scheduled to be played in Wellington. He will be released from the squad before the second Test in Christchurch.

Reflecting on his decision, Wagner expressed gratitude to the New Zealand public and fans for their unwavering support throughout his career, making him feel like a true Kiwi.

“It’s been an emotional week,” said Wagner. “It’s not easy to step away from something you’ve given so much to and got so much out of, but it’s now time for others to step up and take this team forward. To the New Zealand public and the fans, I can’t thank you enough, for your support, for making me feel welcome, for making me feel like a Kiwi.”

While he plans to continue playing first-class cricket, Wagner believes the time has come to step away from Test cricket. He acknowledged the emotional turmoil that comes with retirement but emphasised the importance of passing the baton to the next generation and leaving the Black Cap legacy in good hands.

“They sometimes say when you think about retirement, you’re screwed in a way,” he added. 

“It’s never easy. It’s an emotional road. It’s a big roller coaster, but it’s … the time to pass that baton on and leave that Black Cap in a good place for the rest to take it and hopefully grow their legacy.”

Wagner, originally from South Africa, made his Test debut in 2012 after settling in New Zealand in 2008. Throughout his career, he claimed 260 Test wickets, placing him fifth on New Zealand’s all-time wicket-takers list. Notable highlights include his career-best figures of 7/39 against the West Indies in Wellington in 2017.

With a bowling average of 27.57 runs and a strike rate of 52, Wagner’s impact on New Zealand cricket has been substantial, a legacy that ranks him among the country’s finest bowlers, second only to Richard Hadlee in terms of strike rate among bowlers with over 100 Test wickets.

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