‘I enjoyed against him’: Wagner turns down rematch with Smith as New Zealand struggle with injuries

Wellington : Steve Smith will not have a rematch with Neil Wagner in New Zealand after the left-arm fast bowler has been ruled out of the farewell Test series against Australia by the Kiwis’ selection panel.

Wagner decided to retire after coach Gary Stead indicated that he would not be considered for the first Test, as the Black Caps looked to include more youth in the squad. He is the home team’s guest this week and will be released before the second match in Christchurch.
Wagner bowled his last ball in a New Zealand shirt on Monday night, albeit in a light-hearted game for both teams to welcome Kiwi Prime Minister Chris Luxon.

“They sometimes say that when you think about retirement, you’re kind of doomed,” Wagner said. “I knew the time was coming. Last week, considering the future and the upcoming Test matches, I thought it was the right time to step down and let others take the lead.

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“The discussion between me and Gary after the last Test was that I would not be playing in this series, and looking ahead and talking to Gary and a few people, we felt it would be the right time.

“The team invited me to come here and spend time with them to celebrate, but also to help them prepare for the series and fight against Australia.”

Asked about not getting a final chance to duel with Smith, Wagner expressed confidence that other members of the pace attack, such as promising young fast bowler Will O’Rourke, would step up.

“It’s something I’ve been waiting for, but I have full confidence in the group that they have what it takes to have a Test attack,” Wagner said of Smith. “I enjoyed against him, but it is not guaranteed that I will take his wicket again,” he said.

“He’s a quality player, and I think with the team we’ve got he’ll find his way. That’s why we’re here, we depend on each other as a bowling group and we come up with plans and we’ll find a way to do it.”

New Zealand have other injury concerns. Opening batsman Devon Conway is nursing an injured thumb and did not bat on Tuesday, with Stead indicating he may need to wear a special thumb guard to play. If Conway is not fit, Will Young is the young batsman to come in.

Rachin Ravindra eased suspicions over pain in his left knee by completing a net session on Tuesday.

During a thoughtful and grateful farewell speech, Wagner became most emotional when he talked about his family, but also about the fitness trainers and support staff who helped him become arguably the world’s most durable fast bowler. Was done. He bowled bouncers one after another, when most fast bowlers would get tired of such a tough task.

“The people behind the scenes don’t always get the appreciation,” Wagner said. “But they were much bigger than what I did, by training. When you’re not that talented or don’t have that skill set in your arsenal, you have to find something else. It was different and the motivation for me is to try to stay fit, get stronger.

“They helped me and pushed me without stopping in 4 degrees in Dunedin and there was sleet and snow on the other side of the track. It was never easy to do those sessions, but you knew you had to do it, and they were the ones pushing you out of bed to do it, and they were there in the cold with smiles on their faces because they knew. What was it I was going to deliver.


“I’ve bowled a lot of overs my whole life, growing up as a little kid, I wanted to bowl and bowl and do what I did, and I was lucky that my body could do what I did. Did it for so long, and I wanted to be the guy that could do that all day long for this team. It’s something I’ll look back on and be very proud of.”

For Stead, the decision to move away from Wagner was a difficult one, especially ahead of the new clash with Australia.

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