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December 22, 2010
News : Reece Young replaces Gareth Hopkins for Pakistan Tests
Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of New Zealand
Teams: New Zealand
Reece Young, the New Zealand wicketkeeper, has pointed to his move from Auckland to Canterbury in July as the key to his call-up to the national squad. While at Auckland, Young played alongside Gareth Hopkins, the man he has replaced, and had to play as a specialist batsman whenever Hopkins was in the team.
"In Auckland, I was batting up the order and was a senior player, but I wasn't keeping consistently," Young told the Dominion Post. "That was the reason for leaving: to forge my own path and play head to head against Hoppy. Down here [in Canterbury] I get to be a senior player, bat up the order, and keep wickets consistently."
Young has been named in the 13-man squad for the two-match Test series against Pakistan that begins in Hamilton on January 7 next year, as well as in the Twenty20 squad for the three-match series beginning December 26.
Hopkins was not only axed from the squad for the Pakistan Test and Twenty20 series, but left out of the 30 probables for the 2011 World Cup. He played all three Tests on New Zealand's tour of India in November, after Brendon McCullum decided he was not going to keep wickets anymore in Tests, and said his lack of batting form on that tour was what resulted in his exclusion.
"To be one day in the starting XI and then not in the 30 is a long way to fall but I missed my opportunity and I have to look inwardly," Hopkins, who is 34, said. "I felt I had a pretty good tour [of India] with the gloves but I let myself down with a lack of runs."
Hopkins could only manage 44 runs in five innings with the bat during the Test series and then got only 33 runs in the four ODIs he played. He averages 14.75 in 25 ODIs.
The 31-year-old Young has averaged 54.96 in first-class cricket in the last three years. He has played 99 first-class games, which means a debut Test against Pakistan will be his 100th, and said the 12 years of experience he had in domestic cricket would hold him in good stead when he played for the national side.
"I'm really glad to have put in the time in domestic cricket before I got my opportunity," Young said. "I know what it's like to succeed and to fail and I know my game."
Young said he had heard rumours he may be picked for the Pakistan series but didn't get his hopes up till he got the call. "I did realise there was an opportunity," he said. "Mark Greatbatch called me this [Wednesday] morning, it was a brief conversation, but it was obviously one I was wanting. It's a great Christmas present."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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