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Williamson Breaks Silence Neil Wagner Forced Retirement Matter

By Akanksha - March 06, 2024 03:25 PM

According to former New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor, bowler Neil Wagner's retirement was 'forced'. Wagner, a fast bowler for New Zealand, announced his retirement from international cricket ahead of Australia's first Test match. After a tough conversation with coach Gary Stead in which it was made apparent that he would not be playing for New Zealand in the upcoming series against Australia, the 37-year-old pacer made the difficult decision.

With 260 wickets in 64 Tests, the left-arm concluded his Test career ranked fifth overall among New Zealand's wicket-takers.

It all seems to make somewhat sense now, in my opinion. There's no avoiding the truth: I believe this to be an enforced retirement. Wagner announced his retirement during the press conference, but it was announced after the last Test match against Australia. Thus, as cited by a reporter, he did make himself available,' Taylor stated on Tuesday.

In the reporter's 'Around the Wicket' podcast, he was answering a question concerning Wagner's finger-on-mouth celebration during his final Test match, the second Test against South Africa, which took place earlier in February. The video showed Wagner making explicit gestures as the team gathered to celebrate a dismissal.

Wagner did come on as a replacement fielder during the opening Test, carrying drinks for his teammates. Wagner was scheduled to be cut from the squad following the first Test, but the injury to William O'Rourke created a chance for him to be called up for the second Test in Christchurch. Ben Sears, an uncapped pacer, was selected by the Kiwis instead of Wagner.

Taylor went on to say that while the squad had to plan for the future, Wagner's selection was necessary for a crucial Test match against Australia, a Trans-Tasman rivalry.

'And to see that he is not picked... I think you do need to prepare for the future, but Neil Wagner should be enough for a one-off Test against Australia in a scenario when victory is imperative. Additionally, Taylor remarked, 'I'm sure the Australian hitters are resting easy knowing he's off the team.

Aaron Finch, a former captain of Australia, concurred that if Wagner had been playing the first Test, he could have ended the final wicket-century combination between Cameron Green and Josh Hazlewood.

'Neil Wagner's exclusion from the starting lineup shocked me. I honestly believed that he might have been absent due to a minor discomfort. You can be sure that Wagner would not have been there if the last wicket partnership had not occurred given his success against Australia, especially over an extended amount of time against Steven Smith ' said Finch.

'At the very least, he would have scared Josh Hazlewood.' He may also have prevented a goal from Cameron Green. That was an extremely intriguing choice, in my opinion,' Finch remarked.

Kane Williamson, the Kiwi batsman, downplayed all the worries around Wagner's retirement at a news conference, stating that 'nobody is forced to retire'.

Williamson stated, 'I don't think anyone is forced to retire,' prior to Friday's crucial second Test matchup against Australia. I believe he had a great week last week, reflecting on what was an amazing career.'

'In the changing room, we experienced some incredible moments. It wasn't a flawless experience. Of course, a successful on-field performance would have been beneficial, but there was much more at play. He has simply done this squad so many amazing things. We have witnessed his talent and the figures that are visible to everybody, but what has really impressed us is the passion, soul, and effort he has put forth and, for the most part, led through that for such a long time. He remarked, 'I think he had a really amazing time sharing that with the side. It was quite a special week for that reason.'

Additionally, Williamson gave Wagner's celebration some context by implying that it resulted from some on-field teasing about Southee's fielding on his part with the captain.

'Those men have been and will always be excellent friends. Waggy ended up sending him down at Fine Leg because of the banter between them in the dressing room regarding his fielding. So it was rather comical to get a catch. Waggy then seized the chance. 'I believe he believes that it is clearly out of context and doesn't look good, but all the players understood the context at the time, and it was kind of funny,' he continued.

In addition, he addressed all concerns about the team's environment, stating that, in spite of the outside chaos, everything on the squad was good.

Yes, the environment inside the team is pretty excellent. Something that, as a team, we always strive to enhance and develop. We have been attempting to accomplish this for years. Players and support personnel come and go, and there are constant changes in the scene.'

I'm not sure if [Taylor] knows more than I do. However, he continued, 'I see guys that are giving it their all, wanting to improve as a team, trying to advance the squad, and that is truly a goal for us."

The series is now 1-0 against New Zealand.

Tim Southee (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ben Sears, Kane Williamson, and Will Young are the members of the New Zealand team for the second Test.

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