Auckland captain Gareth Hopkins might figure he's one of the bigger winners out of the New Zealand Cricket contracts list.

The wicketkeeper-batsman played most of the ODI and T20 internationals last summer, with regular, long-term first-choice Brendon McCullum handing the gloves over.

Now with McCullum confirming he's giving up the test keeping job, Hopkins - as the only other regular wicketkeeper named in the 20 contracted players - has first dibs on the test spot in the coming year.

BJ Watling, a newcomer to the list, has done some keeping, but would certainly be behind Hopkins, who was the preferred choice in the limited-overs matches against Australia and at the world T20 in the Caribbean last summer.

Seven tests lie ahead in the next 12 months - two against Bangladesh, three in India late in the year and most likely two against Pakistan in January when they tour New Zealand.

"With Brendon not being involved in that area we've got to have someone next in mind," selector Mark Greatbatch said yesterday. "And Gareth gets the first opportunity in the other forms because Brendon is not going to Sri Lanka [for a tri-series with India next month]."

Greatbatch said Auckland's other batsman-wicketkeeper, Reece Young, had been close to winning a contract. Young toured Sri Lanka last year and is well regarded, as is another non-contracted player, South African-born but New Zealand-qualified Kruger van Wyk. He's moved from Canterbury to Central Districts to enhance his prospects, averaged 57 from 518 runs in the Plunket Shield last season and is a gritty, respected performer.

- David Leggat