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Black Caps welcomed as heroes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/03/2015
Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori. © Getty Images Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori.

New Zealand's cricketers have returned as heroes despite their dream run ending in tatters in the final of the Cricket World Cup.

Hundreds gathered at Auckland Airport to welcome the team home from Melbourne on Tuesday, when veteran spinner Daniel Vettori in the terminal confirmed his retirement from all international cricket.

Thousands then thronged to The Cloud on the waterfront for an official welcome home ceremony.

Skipper Brendon McCullum said he was "blown away" at how they'd captured the country, as he led the Black Caps to their first ever CWC final.

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum with a fan. © Getty Images Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum with a fan.

"I've said this time and time again, but this has been the greatest time of our lives and we have made some great memories and great friends."

After fantastic performances throughout the tournament, New Zealand's batting in the final was disappointing, and they were beaten by Australia by seven wickets.

Despite the loss, Vettori, 36, said the final was "lovely way to finish".

He had retired from ODIs following the 2011 World Cup, but returned four years later despite a lengthy injury break.

He now wants to spend more time with his young family and focus on Twenty20 coaching commitments.

"It would've been great to win, but I'm pretty proud of everyone, the way we've gone about things the last six weeks.

The BlackCaps were given a heroes' welcome at The Cloud in Auckland. © Getty Images The BlackCaps were given a heroes' welcome at The Cloud in Auckland.

"Hopefully some people have fallen in love with cricket, or fallen back in love with it. We've had so much support the whole way round, the guys have fed off that a lot. They've really enjoyed every aspect of it."

Vettori said he was particularly grateful for the support he had received from McCullum and coach Mike Hesson.

"To be able to get back from a number of injuries and to be here and to be part of it, and to hopefully be a big contributing factor to us making that final, is something I'll always treasure."

The tournament also marks the end of Shane Bond's role as bowling coach for the Black Caps.

The former fast bowler is also turning to Twenty20 coaching and wanting to spend more time with his family.

Despite the side's success, he did not have second thoughts.

"I've had the privilege to play and coach the national team. I think the team will always be in my blood," Bond told 3News. "I'll always follow it, [but] I'll certainly miss the guys."

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Vettori decides to call it quits

McCullum joins Birmingham Bears for T20 blast

Some New Zealand players will have commitments in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League and the team next assemble for their tour of England, which starts in May.

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