In a shocking decision that is bound to stun cricket fans world wide, New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum has announced that he will retire from international cricket in February, ending one of the sport’s most colorful careers.
The 34-year-old McCullum will become the first cricketer to play 100 consecutive test matches, when he takes the field in New Zealand’s first test against Australia in Wellington, from Feb. 12. McCullum is expected to make the second test of that series – starting in Christchurch on Feb. 20 – his last match for New Zealand. It is likely that McCullum, one of the world’s hardest-hitting and most innovative batsmen, will also play a limited role in New Zealand’s forthcoming one-day series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and will miss next year’s Twenty20 World Cup.
“I would have preferred to wait until after the test in Christchurch to make this news public,” McCullum told a news conference. “However, the schedule for naming the ICC World T20 squads means I could not have managed this without causing a lot of confusion and speculation – something I was keen to avoid. 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.”
McCullum, who is expected to be replaced by 25-year-old batsman Kane Williamson, hopes to continue to make a full contribution until his final match. “There’s a time and place for reflection and that’s at the end of your career,” he said. “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.”
McCullum made his test debut against South Africa in 2004 and hasn’t been absent from the New Zealand test side since. He established himself first as a wicket-keeper and lower order batsmen but was forced to give up keeping late in his career because of a back injury and has since batted higher in the order.
In his 99 tests to date, McCullum has accumulated 6,273 runs to be New Zealand’s second-highest test run-scorer after former captain Stephen Fleming (7,172). He has scored nine centuries and averaged 38.48 in tests. Last year he became the first New Zealander to score a test triple century, making 302 against India, in Wellington.
That innings, along with two double centuries, saw him score 1,164 runs in 2014, which stood as a calendar year record by a New Zealand batsman, until Kane Williamson (1,172) surpassed the mark during this week’s second test against Sri Lanka.
McCullum became New Zealand’s test and one-day captain under controversial circumstances in 2013, when the new head coach Mike Hesson, fired Ross Taylor, between the first and second tests. Public objections about the manner of McCullum’s appointment quickly subsided as he proved himself an outstanding leader.
Under McCullum, New Zealand is unbeaten in tests at home since 2013 – a run of 13 matches – and reached the final of this year’s one-day World Cup. McCullum also excels in the short formats, having scored 5,909 runs in one-day internationals and 2,140 in Twenty20s.