Neil Wagner
Neil Wagner Credits: Twitter

Neil Wagner has called time on his illustrious 64-Test career for the BLACKCAPS and will bow out following the Tegel Test series against Australia, starting in Wellington on Thursday.

The 37-year-old pace-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.

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.

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.

The left-armer debuted for the BLACKCAPS in 2012 and was a key member of the side during their ascent to the number one ICC Test world ranking and victory in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship in 2021.

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 reflected.

“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.

“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.”

Alongside lifting the WTC Mace in Southampton in 2021, Wagner cited blocking out for a draw and a Test series win against England in 2018, and last year’s one-run victory over the same opposition, among the top highlights of his sparkling career in the Black Cap.

BLACKCAPS 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.”

BLACKCAPS 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.

“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.”

NZC CEO Scott Weenink saluted Wagner and his contribution to the game in this country.

“His record speaks for itself, but I think it’ll be his passion and commitment to the team for which he’ll be best remembered.

“Neil epitomised the best of what the BLACKCAPS are about during one of their most successful periods, and he should be immensely proud of his contribution.

“It’s nice that some of our freshest memories of him at home involve Test wins over England, Sri Lanka and South Africa.”

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.