WELLINGTON • The romance of finishing his career by leading New Zealand into one last battle against Australia on home soil persuaded Brendon McCullum to bow out of international cricket before next year's World Twenty20.
The 34-year-old announced yesterday that he would be retiring from all forms of international cricket after the two-Test series against Australia in February.
The need for New Zealand Cricket to name its squad for the World Twenty20, which takes place in India in March and April, denied him the chance to simply walk away after the second Test at Hagley Park, but he is still determined to go out on a high.
"There's something romantic about finishing playing in front of New Zealand crowds," he said of his 101st and last Test.
"Also to finish in Christchurch, which is my established home, that was my focus."
His chronic back problems are well documented but the former wicket-keeper said that was not the reason for his decision to call time on his career.
"Look, my body's been a bit sore for a while but that's international sport," he said. "But that's not it. I think, in the end, the time has just come.
"I love playing cricket but I guess all good things come to an end. I guess the team's just about ready for the next person to take over."
That next person looks certain to be Kane Williamson, who will lead the side to the World Twenty20.
He scored a century to drive the Blacks Caps to victory over Sri Lanka on Monday, passing McCullum's New Zealand record for runs in a calendar year and moving to the top of the Test batting rankings in the process.
"He's a genius, he's going to hate me saying this, but number one batsman in the world says it all," McCullum said.
"He's a consummate professional and a champion fella and he's still only 25. He's going to be one of the best players the game has ever seen, but again he's going to hate me saying that."
McCullum has forged the best record of any New Zealand captain since taking over from Ross Taylor in December 2012.
Under his stewardship the Black Caps have won 11 and drawn 11 of 31 Tests. His record as a one-day captain is a New Zealand best at 59.43 per cent, which included a World Cup final appearance this year.
He made his international debut against Australia in 2002 and played his first Test against South Africa two years later. In his 99 Tests, he has scored 11 centuries and is one of only 24 players and the only New Zealander to make a triple century.
His 6,172 Test runs is second best for a New Zealander behind Stephen Fleming. In addition to sharing the record for the most Test sixes (100) he holds the record for the most Twenty20 sixes with 91.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE