John Hopkins was brought up close to Maesteg Celtic`s cricket ground, and it was no surprise that he and his brother Jeff had careers as professional cricketers.
After a spell on the M.C.C. groundstaff, John made his Glamorgan debut in 1970 as a solid batsman and an occasional wicket-keeper. Indeed, he created several records by becoming the youngest ever wicket-keeper in both the Sunday League competition and for Glamorgan in any form of cricket when he kept against Northamptonshire at Sophia Gardens aged 17 years and 68 days.
The regular presence of Eifion Jones behind the stumps meant that John concentrated on his batting skills, and from 1977 he formed a reliable opening partnership with Alan Jones. In his first season as a regular opener, Hopkins struck a career-best 230 against Worcestershire at New Road. At the time, it was the highest post-War Championship score for Glamorgan. He was also an effective batsman in one day cricket, and in 1983 he hit 130 in the Sunday League fixture against Somerset at Bath - this remained for 14 years the highest score in the competition by a Glamorgan batsman.
Hopkins was a brave and determined batsman against the new ball, and certainly lost for nothing when it came to batting against the many overseas fast bowlers on the county circuit. His fluent strokeplay and ability to build long innings drew attention from England selectors, and in 1977/78 he won a Whitbread scholarship to Australia. At the start of the 1978 season he was selected to play for the M.C.C. against the Pakistani tourists, but this was the closest Hopkins ever came to higher honours.
(Article: Copyright © 2000 Dr.A.K.Hignell)
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