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McCullum to bid adieu to international cricket in February

Brendon McCullum

Christchurch : New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum today announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket after the home two-Test series against Australia in February.

The 34-year-old batsman will feature in his world-record 100th successive Test since debut at the Basin Reserve on February 12 and will quit after the second Test at Hagley Oval from February 20.

With McCullum retiring, 25-year old batsman Kane Williamson, who has become the top-ranked Test batsman, will captain the New Zealand team during the World Twenty20 in India to be held from March 8 to April 3.

McCullum said he wanted to make the announcement later but he was compelled to share it now as New Zealand will soon name its team for the World T20.

“Ideally, I would have preferred to wait until after the Test in Christchurch to make this news public. However, the schedule for naming the ICC World T20 squads means I couldn’t have managed this without causing a lot of confusion and speculation, something I was keen to avoid,” said McCullum, a day after his team won the Test series against Sri Lanka 2-0.

“I’ve loved my opportunity to play for and captain the Black Caps but all good things have to come to an end, and I’m just grateful for the wonderful experience of playing for my country,” added the swashbuckling batsman, who became the first New Zealander ever to reach the triple ton milestone against India in Wellington last year.

McCullum, who shares the world record of 100 Test sixes with Australian Adam Gilchrist and also holds the record for the most Twenty20 sixes, said he doesn’t want to dwell on his achievements now and wants to focus all his energy on the upcoming tournaments.

“There’s a time and place for reflection and that’s at the end of your career. For now, I’ll be giving all my attention to helping the team focus on what’s coming up over the next few weeks — and making sure we’re in the best possible shape for what’s going to be a very challenging summer,” he said.

McCullum, who made his international debut against Australia in 2002 and played his first Test against South Africa two years later, scored 6,273 runs, including 11 centuries, in his 99 Tests. He also played 254 ODIs, scoring 5,909 runs with five hundreds.

McCullum, who stood behind the wickets for 52 of his 99 Tests and took 194 Test catches, had taken the reins of New Zealand team after previous captain Ross Taylor was sacked in 2012 and his first Test series as captain was in 2013, which ended with a humiliating defeat.

However, the Kiwis have won 11 and drawn 11 of 31 Tests under his leadership. In ODIs, his record is a New Zealand best at 59.43 percent, which included New Zealand’s maiden World Cup final appearance in March this year.

He also had a long association with the Indian Premier League, having played for the Kolkata Knight Riders from 2008–2010 and again from 2012–2013. He also played for the Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Chennai Super Kings.

Recently, McCullum had given testimony in the Chris Cairns match-fixing perjury trial in London last month but he said it had no impact on his decision to quit internationals.

McCullum also heaped praise on Kane Williamson, who blasted an unbeaten century to help New Zealand defeat Sri Lanka by five wickets in the second Test in Hamilton yesterday.

“He’s a genius. He’s the consummate professional and a champion fella and he’s only 25. He’s going to be one the greatest in my opinion,” he said.

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