Cricket: Cairns prepares for final bow

By Richard Boock

Michael Jordan tried it twice, Bjorn Borg also had a go. Mark Spitz couldn't resist one last try and neither could Magic Johnson nor Mohammad Ali.

But Chris Cairns reckons he's unlikely to be making any shock comebacks to international cricket after tomorrow night's Twenty20 contest between New Zealand and the West Indies.
The 35-year-old all-rounder announced his decision to retire late last month, and will bow out tomorrow evening wearing the beige-coloured uniform made famous by the Class of the 1980s, and particularly his father Lance.

However, for diehard Cairns fans there was at least a sliver of hope - he says a return to the international scene wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility, just extremely unlikely.

"I don't think I could ever be tempted back but, in saying that, if injury or unavailabilities struck hard, who knows?" he said yesterday at Eden Park. "But I doubt that I'd be courted, because I think that once I finish my body's going to go somewhere that it hasn't been before, and it will be very tough for me to get fit enough again.

"That's what I've found the hardest recently; the pace of the international game, the intensity at match-time and also at practice time. It's all started to take its toll."

Cairns has busied himself over the past week attending celebratory events in his honour and said he was overwhelmed by the treatment he was receiving, and humbled by the reaction to his decision.

But he said he was looking forward to enjoying his final romp in his New Zealand colours tomorrow evening, and in front of what New Zealand Cricket officials are expecting to be a sellout crowd.

In fact, he was preparing to pay his own tribute to former New Zealand manager John Graham, his mentor and guiding light following the turbulent and controversial days of 1995-96.

Asked if he'd be copying his team-mates and adopting the 1980s hairstyles and beards of their predecessors, a slightly grizzled Cairns declared that he would, for once, be resisting the trends.

"No, I don't think so, I think I'll be respectable for this one," he said.

"I'll do it for John, who always liked us to be clean-shaven. I've tried the retro uniform on, and I've actually had to suck my gut in a bit because they're pretty unforgiving. But I'll give the facial hair a miss."

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