Neil Wagner: New Zealand left-armer retires

Neil Wagner, New Zealand fast bowler, has announced his retirement from international cricket effective immediately after the New Zealand selectors told him he would not be picked for the upcoming two-Test series against Australia starting on Thursday.
Neil Wagner, 37, made the retirement decision following a discussion with national coach Gary Stead last week, where it was confirmed he was not in New Zealand’s best XI for the upcoming series against Australia.
Wagner announced his retirement at a press conference alongside Stead at Basin Reserve in Wellington on Tuesday.
Wagner played 64 Tests for New Zealand, having moved from South Africa. He took 260 wickets at 27.57 with a strike rate of just 52.7, behind only the legendary Sir Richard Hadlee among New Zealand bowlers with 100 Test scalps.

Wagner will continue to play first-class cricket.

‘I knew the time was coming near,” Wagner said about his decision.
‘They sometimes say when you think about retirement, you’re screwed in a way. I knew the time was going to come and it was going to come close. In the last week, reflecting and looking into the future, looking at the Test matches that are to come, I thought it was the right time to step down and let the other guys come in and do what we’ve been doing as a group for a number of years and obviously grow that attack.
It’s never easy. It’s an emotional road. It’s a big rollercoaster. But it’s something that I feel like the time [has] come 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 forward.
‘I wasn’t going to be down here,” Wagner said about being invited for the first match in the Australia series.
‘I think it’s a very nice way for the team… they invited me to come down here and spend this time with them to celebrate it but also help them prepare for the series to get stuck in against Australia and it was a really nice, kind gesture.
‘And I thought it’d be a nice way to bow out, doing what I’ve always been doing, to come here, be here with the team, do everything with a smile on my face and service the lads. That’s just who I am. And it’s a pretty nice gesture and I’m really, extremely grateful to be here and that the team and everyone and Gary has asked me to do this.’
Stead said it had been difficult to tell Wagner that he was not part of New Zealand’s plans moving forward.
‘Very, very tough conversations to have,’ Stead said. ‘Neil understood. As he said, he was very grateful for his time in the Black Cap which I think is enormously big of him as well. I think it’s taken a bit of time for Neil just to work out what this means for him as well and it’s not retiring from everything. He’s still available for domestic cricket, just retiring from international cricket. But they’re incredibly tough conversations. Especially with the calibre of the guy that’s next to me as well and everything he’s done for the team.’
In a statement released by New Zealand Cricket, 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,” Southee 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.
It’s going to be great to have him with us this week for the first Test and we’ll look forward to celebrating his incredible career at the end of the match.’
Neil Wagner cited his first Test win over India in 2014 as well as the World Test Championship win over India as some of his favourite memories in Test cricket.
‘I’ve said this in the past, I never saw myself as the most talented or most gifted bloke going around in cricket,’ Wagner said.
‘I just saw myself as someone who loved this game and loved playing for this team, loved playing for my mates and for that Black Cap and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I know that I had to work extremely hard and find different ways and different methods.’
Neil Wagner