Steve Smith clash goes begging as Neil Wagner drops sad Test cricket retirement news

Cricket fans have been left saddened after the New Zealand great's news.

The showdown between Steve Smith (pictured right) and Neil Wagner (pictured left)  will no longer take place after the New Zealand quick called time on his Test career. (Getty Images)

The highly-anticipated showdown between Steve Smith and Neil Wagner will no longer take place after the New Zealand quick called time on his glittering Test career only 48 hours ahead of the Test series. After Smith endured a disappointing T20 series against New Zealand, the mercurial batter was looking forward to a return to form in the Test arena and a showdown against cricket rival Wagner.

Smith will open at the Basin Reserve on Thursday having only played two Test matches in New Zealand during his 107-Test match career. And he averaged 131 across the two Tests back in 2016.

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The 34-year-old admitted he was looking forward to reigniting his battle with Wagner after the New Zealand quick took his wicket in the 2019/20 series in Australia four times in five innings. Wagner targeted Smith's body and Smith was dismissed a number of times through pull shots.

However, in a shock announcement, Wagner was in tears as he announced his surprise retirement from Test cricket only two days before the Test series. Wagner's figures against Smith were 4-27 off 26.3 overs and fans were looking forward to the duel.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand great admitted he had made the tough decision to step away only days out from the first ball. "It’s been an emotional week," Wagner said on Tuesday. "It’s not easy to step away from something you’ve given so much to and got so much out of, but it’s now time for others to step up and take this team forward.

"My teammates have always meant the world to me and all I’ve ever wanted to do was what was best for the team - I hope that’s the legacy I will leave. I’m looking forward to one final week in camp and will be doing everything I can to help prepare and support the boys."

Neil Wagner during a press conference.
Neil Wagner (pictured) fought back tears as he announced his retirement from international cricket. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images) (Hagen Hopkins via Getty Images)

Wagner played 64 Test matches for New Zealand and took 260 wickets. While he will remain in the squad for the match at the Basin Reserve, he will be released ahead of the second Test. The 37-year-old was a popular player in the Black Caps outfit and fans were quick to praise the quick after an emotional press conference.

Only hours before Wagner's announcement, Smith had talked about the pending duel with the New Zealand quick ahead of the series. "I obviously got out a couple of times to Wagner, but a couple of times in the second innings when I was trying to take him on when we were well in front of the game," Smith said.

"He's pretty good at that short-ball stuff. He does it consistently to a lot of people and he's done really well with it," he said. "Daresay there'll be a bit of that throughout the series and, yeah, he's good at it, so that'll present a challenge."

Steve Smith no certainty for T20 World Cup squad

While the attention has turned to the Test series against New Zealand, Smith was questioned over his potential position in the Aussie T20 World Cup squad. Mitch Marsh recently warned the fringe players in the Australian T20 squad that the batting order could be close to set heading into the series.

But coach Andrew McDonald opted to rest players throughout the series and mix-up the order to give players a chance to shine. Matt Short, Josh Inglis, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Spencer Johnson and Nathan Ellis are all fighting for a starting XI position or a role in the squad and had the opportunity to bid their case in the series.

Short proved to be valuable in the middle order for Australia and unfortunately for Smith, the mercurial batter wasn't able to shine in his opportunity. Smith wasn't able to get going in his two innings at the top of the order and Wade mentioned Short may have done enough to secure his position in the 15-man squad going to the US and West Indies.

Steve Smith during training.
Steve Smith (pictured) will open for Australia against New Zealand. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images) (MICHAEL BRADLEY via Getty Images)

And after Wade's admission, Smith has also claimed he might not have a role in the upcoming T20 World Cup. "I think they're pretty settled up top, to be honest, with (Travis) Head, Warner and (Mitch) Marsh in the top three," he said.

"I'm not really sure what (selectors) want to do. I'm not really too fussed either way. If I'm there, I'm there. If I'm not, I'm not." Smith admitted he copped a number of good balls for his dismissal in New Zealand and was unfortunate not to showcase the skills Aussie fans know he has in the white-ball format.

"(Adam) Milne got one to take off in the second game, which was tough," Smith said. "Lockie, when that sun was setting, it was quite difficult to pick up and he gave me a nice in-swinger. Look, it wasn't ideal, but it is what it is and whatever will be will be from here."

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