There are different viewpoints on the subject and Simon Katich’s omission from Cricket Australia’s central contrast list refuses to leave the headlines. Ricky Ponting may in more heat than he bargained for and it may all have to do with Katich setting the benchmark.
Simon Katich’s spectacular form in the last three seasons could not save him a spot on the contrast list, in which as Ricky Ponting rightly points out, the heat will be on the senior cricketers. The former Australian captain has not had it easy with a transitional team at his disposal. In that light, veteran Simon Katich has been the bright beacon of hope for Australia to stay afloat after losing their world domination and slipping down further in the eyes of the cricket public.
To Katich then be dropped by the Australian selectors was not only a shock for Katich himself but also for the rest of the Australian cricket circles. For Ponting who has been facing the heat himself as the captain shouldering a great deal more responsibility personally with his batting with Australia wobbling as they have, the decision on Katich only adds to the situation he finds himself.
Ponting has fought back calls for him to retire, stating that if Sachin Tendulkar could carry on, there was no reason why Ponting’s careers should not see a revival. While Tendulkar has had an exceptional couple of years, Ponting has been unburdened by the captaincy with Michael Clarke taking over as the Australian captain. While that should help Ponting to focus solely on his batting, it also makes it difficult for him to hold onto his position unless he is able to prove once more that he is just as indispensable as he has been as only the second batsmen behind Sachin Tendulkar in the run making tally.
Katich did not hold back as he addressed a press conference and tore into the selection decisions made over the season. Ponting believes Katich was right in venting his anger because of the contributions he has provided Australian cricket in its darkest hours.
Ponting has every reason to believe a message has been delivered and that unless Michael Hussey and himself continue to push the bar, their career may also witness a forced shutdown. Although the door has not been entirely shut on Katich, Ponting knows that there is a forward looking policy in looking at young, new openers. In that sense, although the selectors have not been able to prove that there are worthy openers pushing for a Test spot, the clock is certainly ticking for the senior cricketers. While it is not the ideal balance, having all the senior cricketers kicked off the team, the absence of Simon Katich will expose more glaringly Australia’s vulnerability unless there is a resurgence of spirit in the young guard.
Ponting knows catching up with Tendulkar will rest on the vindication of faith on the part of the selectors but not everyone understands the explanation for why Katich, who scored far many more runs, was dropped and Ponting finds himself with a contract. And one of those men questioning that logic in Ponting’s former team and legendary leg spinner, Shane Warne. To Warne, it feels like the Australian selectors are in a quandary about Ponting and not sure how he will do without the crown of thorns. But they are willing to give Ponting a chance. For Ponting’s sake, he has to grab the lifeline with both hands.