Cricket: Wright retires after NZ victory

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JOHN WRIGHT, the New Zealand batsman described by his team coach as 'a true gutsy Kiwi', announced his retirement from the first-class game yesterday.

Wright, 38, brought down the curtain on his 82-Test career, stretching back 15 years, after New Zealand squared their Test series against Australia with a five- wicket victory on his home ground at Auckland's Eden Park.

Only Sir Richard Hadlee, with 86 Tests, has played more times for New Zealand than Wright, who scored 5,334 runs at an average of 37.82.

Wright, a stubborn left-handed opener, who captained his country for three years from 1988, said he had known since the start of the year that he would retire.

'I feel comfortable stopping now,' he said, adding that he would retire from all first-class cricket to allow young players to take his place.

The New Zealand coach, Warren Lees, paid tribute to Wright, saying, 'I will always remember him as a true, gutsy Kiwi.'

Age and the modern game finally caught up with Wright on Monday as New Zealand chased 200 to beat Australia. Looking in remarkably aggressive form, Wright chased a quick single and looked to have completed it.

One of the umpires, Chris King, called in the third umpire, who viewed a television replay of the incident before giving Wright out for 33.

'I got a ticket from the third umpire this morning telling me how I was out,' Wright said. 'It definitely wasn't a speeding ticket.'

The Eden Park crowd, aware it was the opener's last match, rose to applaud Wright as he trudged off the field, his bat raised.