• Black Caps skipper to retire from all forms of international cricket at the end of the summer
• McCullum named captain at the start of 2013, but made his Black Caps debut in 2002
• McCullum to play his 100th test against Australia next year
• The first and only New Zealander to make a test triple century
• Kane Williamson will captain the Black Caps at the ICC World T20 in March
Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum has officially announced that he will retire from all international cricket at the end of the summer.
The 34-year-old made the announcement at a New Zealand Cricket press conference in Christchurch this afternoon.
McCullum, who formally took charge of New Zealand in all three formats on the tour to South Africa at the start of 2013, will play his 100th test against Australia at the Basin Reserve starting on February 12, and will end with the second match of that rubber in Christchurch, from February 20.
McCullum will be the first player to play 100 successive tests and his gradual departure in the coming weeks will pave the way for champion batsman Kane Williamson to take charge, assuming he wants the captaincy job.
Kane Williamson will captain the Black Caps at the ICC World T20 in March.
McCullum had been anxious to wait until after his final game to make the announcement, but the impending naming of the Black Caps' squad for the ICC World T20 in India, in which he will not be included, has forced his hand.
"Ideally, I would have preferred to wait until after the ANZ Test in Christchurch to make this news public," he said today.
"However, the schedule for naming the ICC World T20 squads means I could not have managed this without causing a lot of confusion and speculation - something I was keen to avoid.
"I've loved my opportunity to play for, and captain the Black Caps, but all good things have to come to an end, and I'm just grateful for the wonderful experience of playing for my country."
Having said that, McCullum added that this wasn't the time to reflect on his career, pointing out the Black Caps faced an exciting and challenging schedule over the next seven weeks - with the ANZ white ball series against Sri Lanka, followed by ANZ Series against Pakistan and Australia, looming.
"There's a time and place for reflection, and that's at the end of your career," he said.
"For now, I'll be giving all my attention to helping the team focus on what's coming up over the next few weeks - and making sure we're in the best possible shape for what's going to be a very challenging summer."
NZC chief executive David White emphasised the decision to announce McCullum's plans today was borne of circumstance, and a desire to be open and transparent with the media and public.
"Given the questions likely to be raised when the ICC World T20 squad is announced, it was thought better to be upfront and explain the situation now," he said.
Mr White said clarifying the issue would help McCullum and the Black Caps concentrate on a busy international summer ahead, starting with the ANZ One-Day International against Sri Lanka in Christchurch on Boxing Day.
• Your Views: Has Brendon McCullum made the right decision?
• Photos: McCullum career highlights
"We'll celebrate Brendon's wonderful contribution to New Zealand and world cricket at the end of the season. For now, we want to help him prepare for the upcoming seven weeks with the minimum of distractions."
At the conference, flanked by coach Mike Hesson and New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White, McCullum spoke of his enormous pride at representing his country for "most of my adult life".
While he would've preferred to have announced his retirement after the Australian test series, he was looking forward to a "romantic" ending in front of home crowds, and at Hagley Park in the city of his the Dunedin native's adopted home.
Asked what prompted his stepping away from the international game, he said "all good things must come to an end".
The team, which made the World Cup ODI final earlier in the year, and has steadily risen in the test rankings, is ready for the next person - widely tipped to be Kane Williamson - to take over.
His body has been "a bit sore for a while" but that was not unusual for a player at the top of the sport.
Giving testimony in the Chris Cairns match-fixing perjury trial had no impact on his decision-making, he said.
McCullum refused to go into his career highlights, preferring to leave that until after the Australian series.
Instead, he talked of his pride at playing for his country so long, and ending with "definitely the best team I've been involved in".
He said there were some "outstanding players... some freakish players" and the team now had a strong culture to be proud of.
The team now plays the game "in the right spirits" which has come over many years.
McCullum is signed to a three-year deal to play for the Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash T20 league.
While he said there were some other potential opportunities to play cricket, he said he would look at those in the future.
He was looking forward to spending more time with his horse racing business, and his family and three children after "selfishly chasing my dreams over the last decade or so".
When asked if he thought retirement thoughts had affected his recent form, he didn't think it had mentally checked out or let it affect him.
"I'm an either all in or all out kind of bloke," he said.
Instead, he thought he probably hadn't been in top form with the bat and had played some "terrible" shots, which he joked had probably "plagued my career".
Asked what he though of Williamson, his probable successor, called him a "genius".
"He'll hate me saying this. [But] he is number one in the world... he's right at the top of the list. He's a consummate professional, a champion fella, and he's only 25. And he's going to be one of the best players the game has ever seen, in my opinion."
Coach Mike Hesson said while the team still would've loved to have had McCullum around, there comes a time when every player realises when the right time to move on is.
His departure "opens up opportunities for other people", Hesson said, and other senior players will have to take on extra responsibility.
While Williamson will take the helm at the World T20, no decision has yet been made on who will captain the team beyond that, he said.
David White said McCullum will be properly recognised after the final Australian test match at Hagley Oval, and until then New Zealand Cricket is operating "business as usual, focussing the on coming summer".
The Black Caps' success at the limited overs world cup earlier this year had captivated New Zealand, McCullum said.
It had resulted in a boom in player numbers, and a ground swell of support which should see big crowds this summer, which he called "exciting"
"The guys are pretty pumped with the opportunity to play at home and exhibit the same skills they showed at world cup. It's been a great year actually."
There was a "real feel good factor" from fans about the team, he said.
Fans could look throughout line-up and not just see good cricketers but "good common kiwi blokes as well".