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New Zealand Fast Bowler Neil Wagner Retires From Test Cricket At 37

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Wellington (New Zealand), Feb 27 (AP) The hard-working and durable New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner has announced his retirement from test cricket at 37.

South Africa-born Wagner played 64 tests for New Zealand and will finish fifth on New Zealand’s list of all-time test wicket-takers with 260 at an average of 37.

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The left-armer likely was not going to be included in New Zealand’s lineup for the first test against Australia, starting at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on Thursday and decided to retire from the five-day game.

Wagner made his test debut in 2012 and was a key figure in one of New Zealand’s most successful eras, helping the team win the inaugural World Test Championship in 2022. He moved from South Africa to New Zealand in 2008 and quickly established himself in first-class cricket with Otago province.

In recent years Wagner pursued a sort of leg theory of continual short-pitched bowling which was contentious among some fans but invariably produced results. New Zealand won 34 of the 64 tests in which he played.

His strike rate of 52 is bettered only by Richard Hadlee among New Zealand bowlers who have taken more than 100 wickets.

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One of Wagner’s most notable performances was in bowling New Zealand to a one-run win over England after following on at the Basin Reserve last year. Wagner took 4-62 including the final wicket of James Anderson which fell with England one run short of a winning total.

“It’s been an emotional week,” Wagner said Tuesday. “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 Black Caps and am proud of everything we’ve been able to achieve as a team.”

Wagner played under several New Zealand captains who all knew they could throw the ball to him when in need of a breakthrough or simply of someone to bowl for long periods.

“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,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. “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.

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“Neil gave absolutely everything and we are certainly going to miss his energy and never give in’ attitude.”

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