Christchurch: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum insisted the time was right to quit international cricket on Wednesday despite hitting one of his best innings just days earlier.
It was not the way the 34-year-old wanted to retire, as Australia completed a 2-0 series sweep by winning the second Test by seven wickets.
But McCullum did mark his swansong in trademark fashion, setting records for the fastest century and most sixes in Test history (107).
When the match ended, with an Adam Voges four getting Australia to the 201 they needed for victory, there were emotional scenes as McCullum led his side from Christchurch’s tree-lined Hagley Oval.
Australian captain Steve Smith, not out 53, ran over to shake McCullum’s hand.
When New Zealand had needed patience to occupy the crease for long periods of time to save the Test, McCullum could not hold back his natural aggression.
He smashed a first innings 145 in 79 balls, including the first ever 54-ball century, and 25 off 27 in his second bat.
But despite his own heroics, what mattered most for McCullum was the result and it did not turn out as wanted in his 101st and final Test.
“It’s not the ideal way to go out but at the same time, I’ve had a great time,” he said. “We’re obviously disappointed to lose the Test match and the series but the right team won.”
As he shut down his international career there were no tears from McCullum, although he was moved by a guard of honour by the Australians.
McCullum has been sidelined by a back injury in recent weeks and he said he knew it was “time to move on”.
“The time’s right. I came to that realisation when I made the decision and I knew I could steel myself for another couple of challenges,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ve left and brought some fun and enjoyment and some real culture back into the set-up in the time that I’ve had as captain.
“When someone’s career winds down, other cricketers want to show their respects in some way as well. You never foresee that level of respect that Steve Smith and the Australian team showed with that guard of honour would ever eventuate. PTI