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Neil Wagner retires from international cricket with immediate effect, won’t play in New Zealand vs Australia Tests

Neil Wagner will finish his career fifth on the list of New Zealand’s top Test wicket-takers with 260 wickets, at an average of 27.

Neil Wagner, one of the only five New Zealand bowlers to have taken more than 250 Test wickets, has decided to retire from international cricket with immediate effect. The left-arm fast bowler will not be in the starting XI for the first Test at the Cello Basin Reserve and will be released from the squad ahead of the second Test in Christchurch, said New Zealand Cricket in an official statement on Tuesday. This will bring an end to an illustrious career of 64 Tests spread over 12 years.

New Zealand’s Neil Wagner(AFP)

The 37-year-old, however, will continue to ply his trade in domestic cricket for the Northern Districts whether in New Zealand or overseas.

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Neil Wagner, a workhorse for the New Zealand captains that he played under, will finish his career fifth on the list of New Zealand’s top Test wicket-takers with 260 wickets, at an average of 27. His strike rate of 52 is only bettered by the great Sir Richard Hadlee (50) of New Zealanders to have taken more than 100 Test wickets. Wagner won 32 of his 64 Tests, and claimed 143 wickets at an average of 22 in those victories.

Born in South Africa, he moved to Dunedin to play domestic cricket for Otago in 2008, before moving north to his current home in Papamoa in 2018 to play for Northern Districts.

Emotional Neil Wagner says right time to move on

Wagner said the decision to retire was not an easy one, but it was clear the time was right to move on.

“It’s been an emotional week,” Wagner said. “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.

“I’ve enjoyed every single moment of playing Test cricket for the BLACKCAPS and am proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve as a team. The friendships and bonds built over my career are what I’ll cherish the most and I want to thank everyone who’s played a part in where I am today. My teammates have always meant the world to me and all I’ve ever wanted to do was what was best for the team – I hope that’s the legacy I will leave.”

The left-armer made his Test in 2012 and was a key member of the New Zealand side during their ascent to the number one ICC Test world ranking and victory in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship in 2021. He thanked his wife, Lana and children for their constant support.

“I’d like to thank my wife Lana for her support in helping me be the man I am today and for helping bring our two little girls Olivia and Zahli, and our boy Josh into the world.

“I’m looking forward to one final week in camp and will be doing everything I can to help prepare and support the boys.”

Tim Southee and Gary Stead hail Neil Wagner

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said Wagner’s impact went beyond statistics. “Neil’s numbers are phenomenal, but I don’t think we can underestimate his contributions to the team when the chips were down and he found a way to create a wicket.

“His accuracy, execution and tenacity has been instrumental in many of our great Test victories and he will always be remembered for his lion-hearted nature. Neil gave absolutely everything to the BLACKCAPS and we are certainly going to miss his energy and ‘never give in’ attitude.”

New Zealand Test captain Tim Southee described Wagner as one of the great team men.

“You always knew what you were going to get with Neil and that was 100% commitment to the cause,” he said. “He would do anything for the team and has earned nothing but respect and admiration within the dressing room. Personally, I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Neil on and off the field and am sure our friendship will continue for years to come.”

Wagner will be acknowledged at the Cello Basin Reserve during the first Test and further celebrated at the ANZ New Zealand Cricket Awards in Christchurch on March 13.


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