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Vincent shocked at Bracewell's comments

Lou Vincent's axing from the squad for the first Test against West Indies has left him devastated following John Bracewell's comments that he was left out because of a reluctance to open the innings.

The selectors opted for a new rookie opening pair in Jamie How and Hamish Marshall, with Peter Fulton at No.3. Both Fulton and How will be making their debuts. Bracewell said that he didn't want a reluctant opener in the side and was pleased that Marshall readily agreed to open the innings, thereby temporarily closing the door on Vincent.

An emotional Vincent couldn't come to grips with the decision. "It was just a preference, I wasn't insisting on anything," he told New Zealand Herald. "I'd love to play for New Zealand as much as anyone. I'd play anywhere in the team - I don't think there's ever been any doubt over that. I can't understand it. I just want to play the game."

Vincent was stung by suggestions that he didn't want to play for New Zealand as much as Marshall, thereby questioning his commitment and loyalty. "It was a crack up, you've got to laugh but, oh mate - I'm finding it hard to right now," he said. "It makes family life a lot more enjoyable, that's for sure. My partner's expecting in five weeks and that's nice to have going on. But I just don't know what to make of it. It's right out there."

Vincent was also reluctant to speak his mind to the media, fearing repercussions from New Zealand Cricket, with a view to maintaining goodwill. "I just can't do any media right now because I'm not sure what I'd say," he said. "The way I'm feeling at the moment, speaking my mind probably isn't a good idea. Maybe I'll settle down in a day or two but, right now, I can hardly think straight."

He has enjoyed success as a Test opener, having scored two centuries and four half centuries, including a ton on debut at Perth. He achieved his highest score of 224 last year against Sri Lanka at Wellington batting at No.4.

Mark O'Donnell, his coach at Auckland, also expressed surprise at his axing. "Lou might have expressed a preference but knowing what he's like, he would have walked over broken glass to bat anywhere - he's that sort of fella. In a lot of ways, he's at his peak. He's 27 years old and has already been through the hoops. He's had to cope with failure, work his way back into favour, and over time figure out a method that would prove successful at Test level."