Warm Welcome For Black Caps Heroes

Loud cheering, screams and a sea of cricket fans' mobile phones raised high in the air has welcomed the Black Caps back to Auckland.

About 500 supporters, some who had been waiting hours for the delayed flight from Melbourne, surged towards the team as they came through the arrivals gate at Auckland International Airport about 2.45pm.

Fans are decked out in Black Caps supporters' gear, including one member of the Beige Brigade.

More people are arriving every minute to welcome the team home after their defeat in Melbourne on Sunday.

Coach Mike Hesson was visibly emotional as he came out of the gate to the arrival area where the hundreds of fans were waiting.

The players took their time and signed autographs and took photographs with the crowd.

Bowler Trent Boult said the roar from the crowd was a surprise.

Meanwhile, Daniel Vettori made his retirement from international cricket official today.

He told media at Auckland Airport that the final of the Cricket World Cup was his last game representing New Zealand.

Outgoing bowling coach Shane Bond said the team's performance in the Cricket World Cup "exceeded all our expectations".

He said he felt lucky to have worked alongside Vettori throughout his career.

"It was fantastic for us that he came. He epitomises everything good about New Zealand cricket.

"I was just thrilled for him that he got the chance to play in a World Cup final. It was befitting of a man of his stature, not only as a player but as a bloke."

The fans

Aucklander Andrew James, 28, stars in a YouTube video of himself dancing at the semi final at Eden Park last week.

His dance was caught on film by a Fox Sports cameraman who uploaded it to the site and titled it Best Dancer in New Zealand.

It has had 87,000 views.

Mr James has worn the same outfit - a Beige Brigade onesie, one cricket leg pad and pink shoes - to welcome the Black Caps back to Auckland today.

"It was a pretty special tournament, what they have done it's just lifted a nation."

Mr James, who runs a sports coaching business, said he is a passionate supporter of the whole team, but especially of Martin Guptill.

"I'm a big fan of Guptill, not only is he a full ginger as am I but because he's playing in the Cricket World Cup with two toes on one foot."

Long-standing Black Caps fan Juanita Fabish said she came to the airport to show the team she supported them regardless of the outcome of the final.

"I really support the Black Caps. I love them heaps."

She said she hoped she could get a T-shirt signed by a player, preferably her favourite captain Brendon McCullum.

Paige Smith, 12, arrived at Auckland Airport with her family from Oamaru.

She has been a Black Caps fan all her life, she said.

"I'm hoping to get Tim Southee's autograph," she said.

She had stayed up late to watch the Cricket World Cup final, and when her mum sent her to bed she pulled out a wiggly tooth so she could stay up.

"I wanted to watch it so much," she said.

The big supporter didn't mind the outcome of the final - she was just proud.

"I watched pretty much all the games," she said.

West Auckland cricket fan Geraldine Reid and children Emily, 12, William, 8, and Isabella, 3, yesterday checked the team's arrival time and sussed out the best parking options.

Mrs Reid said the family had bought flags and a signature bat in the hope of getting some autographs, but their main objective was to cheer the team on.

"We just want to welcome them home to tell them how amazing they are and to let them know that we think they're terrific," she said.

The family had been to the Eden Park semifinal and watched as many games as possible on television.

William played for the same club as Martin Guptill, Mrs Reid said.

"We really hope New Zealand has a resurgence in cricket as a result [of the world cup] and we just want to tell then we are rely proud of them and that we love their work," she said.

Four-month- old Evie Carter was amongst more than 200 fans gathering at the arrival gates this afternoon.

The Avondale baby had "grown up watching the team," joked her cricket fanatic mother, Liz Carter.

"Whenever [Australian player] Michael Clarke would come on the tv she would start crying," she said.

Ms Carter said she wanted to share the experience with Evie when she was older.

"I'm a huge cricket fan and I grew up watching cricket with my brothers and it's been so amazing to see them go so well.

"I wanted to see the boys, I thought they did fantastic and it will be cool to say to Evie when she's older that our team is really awesome and she got to go and see them."

Sri Lankan born Dhaya Haran has been a Black Caps fan since he moved to New Zealand in 1991 and today he cleared his work schedule to welcome his team home.

"I've been a fan for more than 20 years and I was gutted when they lost the semi finals to Pakistan in 1992.

"It's so good that we have now gone further and I am so proud of what they have achieved."

Mr Haran said he wanted the players to know their fans were behind them despite the heartbreaking finals loss.

"If they had won the final they would have had a big welcome and a lot more hype, but I wanted to come and show my support personally because I thought they deserved it even though it didn't go our way."

'You are the heroes'

"Welcome home U R the Heroes," read one sign, while others waved Black Caps flags and signature bats.

Arriving early paid off for Nathan Cox, 7, in the autograph stakes.

The youngster, who also ran on with the team wen they faced Australia at Rden Park during tournament secured signatures from Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Kane Williamson.

"It's pretty cool," he said. "I ran on with Martin Guptill and now I have who I ran on with".

'A sensational run'

Meanwhile, Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman said the Black Caps had done New Zealand proud in the Cricket World Cup.

"The Black Caps have had a sensational run in the tournament. They have provided some unforgettable sporting moments and inspired the future generation of cricketers," he said.

"There have been many highlights, including Tim Southee and Trent Boult's bowling, Daniel Vettori's impossible catch, Martin Guptill's World Cup record setting 237, and Brendon McCullum's leadership," he said.

"Also, let's not forget Grant Elliot's semifinal winning six and his fantastic effort in the final."

Dr Coleman said the work and preparation that went into hosting the tournament was huge, and it had been a resounding success both on and off the field.

"More than 325,000 people attended the 23 matches held here and well over a billion watched the global broadcast. Not only has the tournament been fantastic for local cricket fans, it has also allowed the country to present itself on the global major events stage."

The Government invested $10.45 million to support New Zealand in co-hosting the Cricket World Cup with Australia, he said.

The tournament was estimated to have attracted around 30,000 international visitors to New Zealand and was expected to result in more than $40 million being injected into the local economy.

Dr Coleman will be attending the public welcome home for the Black Caps at Queens Wharf in Auckland at 6pm today.