24 Dec 2015

McCullum's hand forced on retirement

12:05 pm on 24 December 2015

After almost 15 years at the top level the New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum has announced he's retiring from the international game.

McCullum made his announcement in Christchurch on Tuesday where the Black Caps are preparing for the opening match of their one-day series against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day - that he will finish up after the two-Test series against Australia in February.

The 34-year-old holds the record for the highest Test score by a New Zealander, the only player to have scored a triple century having made 302 against India last year.

Brendon McCullum is the only New Zealander to have scored a triple test century.

Brendon McCullum will farewell international cricket in February. Photo: Photosport

McCullum was hoping to follow in the footsteps of former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and not make it official until after he'd played his final game, but the upcoming naming of the squad for the World Twenty 20 competition in India forced his hand.

"I love playing cricket for New Zealand but all good things must come to an end and I've had a great time at the top of international sport," McCullum said.

"It's nice that while you are still contributing to the team you can make these decisions and I guess the team is just about ready for the next person to take over... and the time has come."

His replacement is set to be Kane Williamson.

Williamson will lead the Black Caps at the Twenty20 World Cup in March.

Brendon McCullum has created plenty of New Zealand cricket records.

Brendon McCullum has created plenty of New Zealand cricket records. Photo: Photosport

McCullum made his limited overs debut for the Black Caps in 2002 and his Test debut two years later.

He started out as a wicketkeeper-batsman, but gave up the gloves as it began to take a toll on his body.

A belligerent batsman who could destroy bowling attacks his arrival at the crease always created a stir around the ground and television sets.

But his determination to dominate bowling attacks was also his major flaw and given his talent he should have a test average of higher than 38.

"I'm either all in or all out kind of bloke and I haven't mentally checked out at all (recently), I just haven't been in the best form that I could and I have played a couple of terrible shots... which has probably plagued my career to be honest," said McCullum.

But it was McCullum's approach that also engendered confidence in the side.

The debacle over the axing of Ross Taylor as captain in late 2012 and McCullum replacing him was not the best way for his captaincy reign to start.

There was little argument McCullum was the right choice but the manner in which Taylor was sacked still rankles in cricket circles.

The Black Caps batsman Ross Taylor of  cuts late for his century during Day 3 of the second test.

McCullum replaced Ross Taylor (above) as Black Caps captain in 2012. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Under McCullum the Black Caps have risen up the Test and one day rankings, to sit fifth on the test ladder and fourth on the one day rankings.

McCullum also led New Zealand to their first ever World Cup final, when they finished runners-up to Australia in Melbourne earlier this year.

He wasn't tempted to make the Twenty20 World Cup his farewell.

"There's something pretty romantic about finishing playing in front of a New Zealand crowd and playing at New Zealand grounds.

"Also playing at two of the most amazing grounds - the Basin Reserve in terms of the history ....and also to then finish in Christchurch where I've established my home, there's a little bit of romance there."

Chris Cairns arrives at Southwark court on Friday the 30th of November 2015

Given testimony against former team-mate Chris Cairns (above) wasn't a factor in his decision to retire says Brendon McCullum. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

McCullum is adamant the recent perjury trial of former team-mate Chris Cairns, where McCullum testified Cairns had asked him to match fix played no part in his decision to call it quits.

Former team-mate, all-rounder Jacob Oram, said McCullum had the innate ability to bring out the best in a team.

"Going from the court room in London to the Test field in Brisbane is something no-one would won't to go through so I think the guy's character is immensely strong," Oram said.

"He's a lightning rod for critics... and I think it's wrong. He's a very misunderstood character. He's an extremely tough guy and he's given an enormous amount to this country over the past 15 years and we should be happy and proud that we've got him," said Oram.

In February at the Basin Reserve in Wellington McCullum will become the first player to first player to play 100 successive Tests, not having missed one since his debut in 2004.

The Dunedin-born McCullum will then head to his adopted home Christchurch for his Test farewell at Hagley Oval and a possible series win over Australia, which for McCullum would be the best parting gift he could hope for.

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