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Ross Taylor on Neil Wagner – ‘I think it’s a forced retirement’

New Zealand fast bowler Neil Wagner announced his retirement after learning that he would not be part of the ongoing Test series against Australia and his former team-mate Ross Taylor feels the decision was “forced”.

Responding to a question on ESPN’s Around The Wicket podcast about Wagner’s finger-on-the-mouth celebration after dismissing Zubayr Hamza in his final Test appearance, against South Africa in Hamilton, and a visual of him showing someone the middle finger as the team got in a huddle to celebrate another wicket, Taylor said, “I think it all makes sense a little bit now. There’s no sugarcoating it: I think it’s a forced retirement. If you listen to Wagner’s press conference, he was retiring, but it was after this last Test match [against Australia]. So he did make himself available.”

Wagner was to be released from the squad after the first Test in Wellington. But an injury to William O’Rourke sparked talk of a potential recall for the second Test in Christchurch. New Zealand haven’t gone down that road though, picking the uncapped fast bowler Ben Sears instead.

“And to see that he isn’t selected… I think you do need to plan for the future, but a one-off Test against Australia in a must-win situation, I wouldn’t be looking much further than Neil Wagner. And I’m sure the Australian batters are sleeping easy that he’s not in the side,” Taylor said.

Aaron Finch, also on the podcast, said Wagner would have likely stopped Australia from posting as big a total as they did in their first innings at the Basin Reserve, which laid down the platform for their 172-run win.

“I couldn’t believe Neil Wagner wasn’t in the XI. I just genuinely thought that he must have been out through a niggle,” Finch said. “The success he’s had against Australia, particularly [against] Steven Smith over a period of time, you can guarantee that the last wicket partnership wouldn’t have happened if Wagner was there.

“Because he would have intimidated Josh Hazlewood at least. He might have stopped Cameron Green from scoring as well. I thought that was a really interesting decision,” Finch said.

Green and Hazlewood put on a record 116-run partnership – the highest 10th-wicket stand for Australia against New Zealand – to take Australia from 267 for 9 to an imposing total of 383.

“It’s not only his experience and the way he goes about it, but you know, the opposition, you heard [Pat] Cummins talking about the plans that they had for him,” Taylor said.

“Experience plays a lot, but no, I agree with Finchy. If he comes around the wicket to Hazlewood, he might have got him away for a couple of boundaries or even a six. But I think for the prolonged time he would have attacked him for, I don’t think they would have got a 100-run partnership.”

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