Monday, 23 January 2012

The end of Simon Katich - a necessary evil?

Simon Katich is probably one of the unluckiest cricketers around. 2928 runs at an average of 50.48 since his return to the test team in 2008, and he must have felt certain of a Cricket Australia central contract for 2011. Warner, Hughes, the Husseys, Khawaja all got them. Katich did not.  After a short vow of silence, Katich spoke out about his 'unfair' treatment, slamming the Australian selection process and the pressure put on him to play test cricket despite a broken thumb and a torn achilles tendon.

Katich's situation has split the cricketing world into two camps: those hoping for change and a new era of Australian cricket, and those who believe his consistency and prolificacy merited a continued place in the Australian test set-up. Katich's former captain, Ponting, has spoken in Katich's defense, saying that his treatment came as a 'shock' and that Katich was right in labelling the decision as 'ridiculous'. Watson too lamented the loss of his opening partner, ruing 'year or two of good cricket left in him' that Katich would miss out on. Outside the the team, Australia legend Michael Slater joined his defense, claiming that he has been 'appallingly hung', and going on to say that his treatment would have only been acceptable if Phil Hughes, his replacement, 'came in scoring hundreds' (something which hasn't happened). On the other end of the scale, the great Shane Warne argues that the cuts should not stop at Katich, but go on to displace the aging former captain Ponting, wicket-keeper Brad Haddin and the talismanic Mike Hussey. Warne wants to throw the youngsters in at the deep-end and give them the incomparable experience of international cricket. 'Keeping the same players, but saying 'we're in transition, doesn't work', argues Warne.

Time running out: How long until Ponting, Hussey and Haddin get the boot?
It would seem however, that the simultaneous exodus of three of Australia's most experienced players would lead to a crisis similar to that of 06/07, after the retirement of Warne, McGrath and Langer. Perhaps the cut of Katich was a necessary evil. Of the three players most in the firing line, that is to say, Ponting, Hussey and Katich, the latter would always be the most vulnerable. Having served Australia for 15 years, as a record breaking captain and batsman, Ponting was always going to be given a bit of latitude despite his poor form in tests. Moreover, the selectors were probably hoping for an 'Indian summer' from the great man, who, having relinquished the captaincy, may feel more at ease to express himself at the crease. Hussey too, was one of few shining beacons in Australia's dire Ashes campaign, and still plays a key role in the one day set up. It seems that one of them had to go, and it seems that Katich, despite all his grit, determination and fecundity, was the unlucky man.

Hughes and Warner: The future of Australian cricket?
I'll be writing a piece soon on the future of Australian cricket, so stay tuned..!

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