The omission of Simon Katich from the list of centrally contracted cricketers with Cricket Australia is developing into a raging bushfire with some rather bizarre explanations also coming into play.
The thirty-five year old Simon Katich was certainly not expecting the axe although he did fear in the immediate aftermath of the injury. After all Katich had established himself as a worthy opener for Australian cricket and has been scoring as the anchored player at the top of the batting list. He managed to pip the likes of Phil Hughes who has not been able to grab the few opportunities that have come his way, making room once more for Australia to rely on experience and wealth of wisdom in Katich.
Although some would have thought age was a factor, in Katich’s case, he has been scoring rather prolifically before an injury sidelined him during the Ashes at home. That, however, was not expected to affect his chances as Cricket Australia released its list of twenty-five centrally contracted cricketers.
Naturally there has been a great deal of consternation all round with several former cricketers expressing their views. Amongst those in his own age league who won the contract include Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Although Hussey has been feeling bad for the man who was also his best man at his wedding, Ponting’s reasoning lay in the fact that Australia were looking to groom young, new openers in time for the next Ashes expedition, having already lost the Ashes twice in succession, at home and away.
However, there have been many stones thrown at Cricket Australia, the Australian selectors and the chief of these being at Andrew Hilditch who is perhaps holding onto his seat by the skin of his teeth. The Ashes series have seen plenty of brickbats for the Australian selectors and it appears that the tone is no different when the list was announced.
Michael Slater was one of the most vociferous voices, slamming Hilditch over the call on Katich. He did though lend his thoughts to a dated incident between Katich and the new Australian captain, Michael Clarke. Although it would appear absurd if the decision to omit Katich had anything to do with it, it certainly allowed people to go back into the past and reflect on the incidents of that day when Katich was not pleased that Clarke refused to lend his attention to the patriotic singing in the Australian dressing room as Clarke reportedly had a pressing date with his then model-girlfriend, Lara Bingle. While the high profile relationship eventually ended and even caused Clarke to leave the Australian team and return home from New Zealand midway, apparently the incident itself has not been erased from public memory.
The contention of several former cricketers and cricket experts, particularly from Australia, is the fact that Australia have been looking light on talent and in their opinion, the dropping of Katich is unwarranted simply because there is nobody else pushing him for his slot in the Australian team. Furthermore, they feel it is unfair to judge a player simply by age not only because Katich is as fit as some of the younger members in the team but also, by those standards it would be unfair to overlook Katich when Hussey and Ponting are still in the team. It may be recalled that Ponting was under intense scrutiny to keep his job with the focus on his batting while Hussey almost lost his spot on the team before he bounced back in strong fashion.At the height of the drama surrounding Ponting’s captaincy, Katich had even become a popular choice with the public.