Former New Zealand opening batsman Matthew Bell today retired from all forms of cricket after struggling with injuries over the past two seasons.
Bell, 33, said after 17 years of first-class cricket he no longer had the commitment required to train and perform at the highest level
"It's a decision that's been coming for a while now. But it's time for me to get on with the next phase of my life and to let some of the younger guys have the same chances that I've had," he said.
"Retirement is a bit of an emotional thing but it was important to me to call time on it at the right time for the right reasons. I've played the game since I was six and I'm still passionate about it. I was lucky enough to have the chance to turn that passion into a career and I'm enormously grateful for the opportunities and support I've had along the way," he said.
Bell played 18 tests for New Zealand, from 1998-2001 and again in 2008, and scored two centuries - 105 against Pakistan in 2001 and 107 against Bangladesh in 2008. He averaged 24.30 in the five-day format and also featured in seven one-day internationals.
He rated his international career highlight hitting the winning runs at Lord's in New Zealand's first test victory at the ground.
A stalwart of the first-class scene, he played 14 seasons for Wellington from 1997/98, including eight as captain, amassing 20 first-class centuries.
Bell captained Wellington to two first-class titles, one one-day title and a Cricket Max title. He remains the only New Zealand batsman to twice score 1000 first-class runs in a domestic season and is the leading run-scorer for the province with 6565 runs.
Cricket Wellington chief executive Gavin Larsen praised Bell's dedication: "Matthew's retirement sees one of the great Wellington cricket careers draw to a close," said Larsen. "His commitment and dedication to Wellington and New Zealand over the years has been total, and I personally thank Matthew for his superb contribution to cricket."
New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan also paid tribute to Bell's long career: "He is a great example of longevity in a demanding high-performance sporting environment, which has been achieved through his diligence and constant willingness to learn and improve."
Bell plans to pursue study and business interests and hopes to continue his involvement in cricket at some stage.
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