Norquay: Brendon McCullum is gone - taking his swash and his buckle with him video

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A celebration of six-hitting, Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum style.

OPINION: A swashbuckling cricketer who is anything but retiring, New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum is now going to do just that.

He will play a world record 100th successive test from debut against Australia at the Basin Reserve starting on February 12, the second test at Hagley Oval in Christchurch a week later, then declare his international innings closed.

"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," he said on Tuesday.

Brendon McCullum will draw a line under his international cricket career with the test series against Australia.
ANDREW CORNAGA PHOTOSPORT

Brendon McCullum will draw a line under his international cricket career with the test series against Australia.

He had wanted to wait until after his final game to retire, but the impending naming of the Black Caps for the World T20 in India forced his hand.

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In line to succeed: Kane Williamson has been widely tipped to replace Brendon McCullum as Black Caps captain.
PHOTOSPORT

In line to succeed: Kane Williamson has been widely tipped to replace Brendon McCullum as Black Caps captain.

If hampering back injuries allow, in two months he will walk freely away from a game in which he once epitomised the cricket saying "six and out".

New Zealand will have to farewell two McCullums. Two faces, superhero and villain. He was swash. He was buckle.

His bat sent red, white and pink balls flying, inciting Kiwi crowds to fling their hands high in delight.

STACY/SQUIRES/FAIRFAX NZ.

Black Caps captain, Brendon McCullum announces his retirement from New Zealand cricket

And yet his aggression at the crease often made for short stays there, and thousands of despairing hands flung over bowed heads.

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At cricket grounds around the globe, crowd excitement drained away like hot air from a balloon when McCullum departed. 

His aggression as captain owed plenty to his fondness of gambling. He was willing to risk defeat to win. He put his cricket cards on the table.

Phil Walter Rob Jefferies Quinn Rooney Getty Images Peter Meecham Getty Images Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images ADNAN ABIDI KRISHNENDU HALDER/ REUTERS Anthony Phelps Phil Reid David Hallett SIMON BAKER Jeff Brass

Brendon McCullum bats during day three of the Second Test match between against Sri Lanka at Seddon Park December 2015 in Hamilton.

Brendon McCullum bats during the first Test match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at University Oval on December 2015 in Dunedin.

Captains Michael Clarke and Brendon McCullum pose with the World Cup trophy ahead of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup Final in Melbourne.

Brendon McCullum bats during the 2015 Cricket World Cup Semi Final match between the Black Caps and South Africa at Eden Park, March 2015.

Brendon McCullum airborne while fielding during the ICC Cricket World Cup Semi Final Match played between South Africa and New Zealand at Eden Park.

Brendon McCullum, left, is congratulated by Kane Williamson after scoring 1000 test runs in 2014.

Brendon McCullum of New Zealand is presented with a key to Wellington city by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown in recognition of his triple century against India at the Basin Reserve in February 2014.

South Africa's Johan Botha is bowled by Jacob Oram as wicket keeper Brendon McCullum celebrates during their Cricket World Cup quarter-final match in Dhaka March 25, 2011.

Brendon McCullum celebrates after scoring a double century against India on the final day of their second test cricket match in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad November 2010.

Brendon McCullum celebrates his 100 against India during their second international cricket test match in Napier, March 2009.

Brendon McCullum wicketkeeping against England at the Basin Reserve March 2008.

Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum leave the field after getting the final runs to bet Australia in the Chappell-Hadlee match at Jade Stadium in 2005.

New Zealand's Brendon McCullum leaps to catch the ball behind Sri Lanka's Tharanga during the first day of the first cricket test in Christchurch December 2006.

Brendon McCullum was lucky to survive this attempted stumping on his way to his first test 50, scored in his first test match. March 2004.

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McCullum set mongrel attack dog fields, which saw him credited with breathing life into a game in danger of losing its relevancy in an era where people have less time to sit for hours watching willow pat leather gently back to the bowler.

Toward the end of his career, while afflicted with back injuries, McCullum, 34, moved further and further away from villain and ever closer to superhero.

He gradually won over his critics with three double centuries in tests, then in the summer of 2014 scored a New Zealand record 302 at the Basin Reserve, taking five minutes short of 13 hours to save the test, even raising hopes of winning it.

A polarising figure in world cricket, Brendon McCullum demonstrated plenty of swash and buckle over the course of his career.
PHOTOSPORT

A polarising figure in world cricket, Brendon McCullum demonstrated plenty of swash and buckle over the course of his career.

Like the best of the racehorses he likes so much to punt on, McCullum had proved he could stay as well as sprint. He held body and mind together for nearly two days.

After the World Cup semifinal final against South Africa at Eden Park he scored a crucial 59 off 26 balls, to help propel New Zealand into their first World Cup final.

That effort came after he ripped England apart in pool play at Westpac Stadium with 77 off 25 balls, and scored 50 off 24 in a thriller against Australia in Auckland.

With a number of off-field interests to occupy him, 'BMac' will certainly be keeping himself busy in retirement.
PHOTOSPORT

With a number of off-field interests to occupy him, 'BMac' will certainly be keeping himself busy in retirement.

And then back to buckle, bowled third ball in the final by Mitchell Starc. Villain again, with criticism of his captaincy and batting that had brought New Zealand that far.

McCullum never enjoyed the almost unquestioning adoration of recently retired All Blacks' rugby captain Richie McCaw, yet he better summed up the archetypical Kiwi "rugby, racing and beer" bloke.

He likes racing, he likes a beer and - as for rugby - he was once good enough to keep a talented Cantabrian called Daniel Carter out of a South Island secondary schools' team.

While his batting was publicly his greatest talent, it's possible his ability to inspire and lift a side was even greater, if not so apparent.

He got players on board with his way of playing the game. He sold them excitement and self belief, and he did it after deposing Ross Taylor only to see the Black Caps dismissed for 45 in his first test as skipper.

From that inauspicious start, statistics now have him as the most successful captain in New Zealand history. While he has had his critics, he must have done plenty of things right.

Now he will turn to his thoroughbred stable Vermair Racing, and presumably as a hired gun for Twenty20 squads around the globe. He's played professionally in Australia, India, England and Wales.

McCullum was in October portrayed as a successful businessman and sportsman, with a reputation to protect at the Chris Cairns perjury trial in London.

His various business interests were listed as cricket, buying and selling race horses, and exporting wine and meat to India.

So it's not a retirement in the traditional sense. He'll be busy, as Kane Williamson looks set to put on the captain's hat he has vacated.

 - Stuff

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