Australian news June 7, 2011

Katich cut from contract list


Simon Katich's Test career is effectively finished and he may yet retire from cricket altogether after he was denied a Cricket Australia contract in the most significant change to the 25-man list of national team players for the 2011-12 season.

Mike Hussey, 36, and Katich, 35, were the two players thought in most danger of being culled as the national selectors maintain their push towards youth. The strong form of New South Wales team-mates and fellow top order batsmen Phil Hughes and David Warner, late in the domestic season, arguably tipped the scales against Katich.

All this was understandably difficult to fathom for Katich who, with 2928 runs at 50.48 since he was recalled to the Test team in 2008, has been not only Australia's most reliable batsman but among the most bankable in the world. In that time only Alastair Cook has scored more runs.

"It was obviously devastating for Simon, from the time he went out of the Australian team and fought his way back through weight of runs he's been a really fantastic player for us and has been extremely successful," said Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, at the contract announcement in Adelaide.

"So it was a big decision, obviously really hard on Simon, but in our view the opening partnership is critical, it takes time to get a good opening partnership and we think now the time is right to make sure we have the right opening partnership come the Ashes.

"He was really devastated as you can imagine, and they're not easy phone calls to make, he was really upset."

Katich played his last Test during the innings defeat in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide in December last year, limping out of international cricket with a torn Achilles tendon that cancelled him out of the equation for the remainder of the series. His manager, Robert Joske, said Katich would take some time to consider his future before speaking publicly.

"Simon's bitterly disappointed but we're going to take a look at all of the options," Joske told ESPNcricinfo. "There's lots of options we'll look at, both playing and non-playing, before we decide what's best for Simon and his family. We'll wait until the dust settles."

Hussey's staunch efforts during the Ashes were followed up by a rapid recovery from a hamstring tear to play a walk-on role in the World Cup in March, and he also made a century against Bangladesh in Dhaka during Michael Clarke's first tour as captain in April. Hilditch said Hussey and the former captain Ricky Ponting would have to shepherd a young batting line-up through the perils of Sri Lanka and South Africa.

"We see them having a very important role with our middle order," Hilditch said. "It's as tough as it gets, Sri Lanka away, South Africa away, India at home, we play three of the top four nations in the next 12 months, so it's a really demanding time and we just think they've got a great role to play at the moment."

Another most significant contractual decision is the inclusion of the 18-year-old NSW paceman Patrick Cummins. Cummins, currently recuperating from a back strain that has kept him out of the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe, is the youngest player to be granted a contract since the current system was introduced in 1998.

Xavier Doherty, John Hastings, David Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza and James Pattinson are the other players to be added to the contracts list, having all taken part in matches for Australia over the past 18 months. Alongside Cummins, Pattinson is considered one of the most promising fast bowling prospects in the country, and made his international debut in Bangladesh.

"James has tasted international cricket and we see him as a young man of immense talent who is made of the right stuff to succeed at the higher level," said Hilditch. "Patrick Cummins is an exceptional talent who has impressed with his opportunities to date for New South Wales and it will be very exciting to watch his progress.

"We're really all of the view that he's a potential champion for Australia and we're going to encourage that and look after him."

Cummins was shocked to receive a call from Hilditch, and later another from Clarke, as he came to terms with being so quickly in the national frame.

"I got a call from Michael Clarke so that was pretty exciting - I didn't have his phone number before, but now I've got it," Cummins told reporters at the SCG. "I'm still level-headed about it, trying to play for NSW whenever I can, whenever I get an opportunity. There's still plenty of quality bowlers out there and when they return from injury they probably deserve a spot ahead of me, so hopefully I can bowl well and keep that spot."

Apart from Katich, James Hopes, Andrew McDonald, Clint McKay, Marcus North, Shaun Tait and Adam Voges were also cut from the list, while Australia's incumbent Test spinner Michael Beer was not offered a contract though he remains in the selectors' plans.

"You shouldn't read too much into that," Hilditch said of Beer's absence. "Michael Beer and Steven O'Keefe are still very much in contention for Sri Lanka, even though they don't get a ranking. Because we now rank three forms of the game there are still players we rank very highly who are out of that contract list."

Cricket Australia contracts list 2011-12: Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gary on June 10, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    I am a total religious fanatic when it comes to Australian cricket, but the Pope (Hilditch) and his priests are making it harder and harder to win games, let alone beat the best teams!!! How can Kat be left out of the contracted list??? And include doubtful quantities like Jason Krejza - they have to be kidding. Picking Krejza b4 Hauritz in the previous series was hopeless, and his results showed it. Sure we need a balance of experience and youth, and when you look at the average age of our test team we are older than most of our competitors, but it is not our age which has let us down - it is our mental toughness at some key moments in the game. The Ashes series in England was lost by one poor session in each of 2 tests, and in the onshore series our bowling stocks were impacted by serious injuries and a lack of a quality spinner and we failed to break England's top order. We need Kat at the top with Watto just as we need Punter and Huss. Come on Aussie selectors, come on, come on

  • Andrew on June 10, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    @Blake Houston - I was a big Jaques fan when he came on the scene. I thought we had the perfect replacement for either Hayden or Langar. But honestly - since his back injury, Jaques isn't half the batsmen he was. He averaged 33 in the Shield this past summer, in seasons gone by - it would of been 63. Love to see him at his best, but I don't think that'll happen. I actually think if Katich plays for NSW all season next summer, Jaques will have difficulty getting into the side - with Warner & Maddison likely to open with Katich @ #3.

  • Paul on June 10, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    WorldsOddestMan, what are you talking about? Noone bloods openers at No 3. No 3 is the hardest and most important spot in the batting order. Next you'll be claiming we need to blood our keepers by letting them open the bowling.

  • pr on June 9, 2011, 16:44 GMT

    I am absolutely shocked. Remember the almighty fight between Katich and Michael Clarke about two years ago. Katich has paid the price for it now that Clarke is captain. There is nothing else as a reason I can think of. Do the Australian selectors think that Hughes or Warner can play Test cricket. Even Marsh has not played a single Test. And if they are talking about age, what about Ponting, David & Michel Hussey, Lee & Harris.

  • Dummy4 on June 9, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    Hodge, Jaques now katich, wasting really good players while trying to introduce others :north, smith mainly. Phil Hughes is such a risk, u dont know which phil hughes will turn up on any given day of a test match. My contracted 25 wud have included senior pro's but also some youth, and some new players. Watson, M.Hussey, D.Hussey, Jaques, Katich, Ponting, Lynn, Khawaja, Clarke, Haddin, Wade, Cosgrove, Voges, Ferguson, Marsh, O'keefe, Hauritz, Bollinger, R. Harris, Mckay, Lee, Johnson, Copeland, Siddle, Christian. Steve smith misses out by a whisker, but i feel watson, dan christian and Steve O'keefe are the better allrounders. O'keefe and hauritz are the 2 spinners, they need to be shown support. 7 good pace bowlers to join Watson and Christian. 13 batsman, 2 keeper batsman, Hughes just misses out to Phil Jaques, cosgrove is very solid so he's included along with Voges who avg's 40+ in ODI's. This is perfect 25 players except arguably Hughes could be included, but who to leave out?

  • Dummy4 on June 9, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    Another chapter in Guru Greg Chappel's Book

  • Pradeep on June 8, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    Greg Chappell and Michael Clarke will take care of Ricky Ponting too very soon. Just give it one more series and then Greg alone will take care of Michael Clarke ;-). Failure in just one series is required and Michael Hussey will be out too.

  • Dummy4 on June 8, 2011, 13:48 GMT

    Haha. Cricket Australia has gone crazy it seems!

  • Fazal on June 8, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    This so called Chairman of Selectors Hilditch and his cronies should be asked to step down or forced to step down in the interest of aussie cricket for slowly but surely destroying our status as a powerful cricket playing nation.Their sheer ignorance, arrogance and lack of intelligence no doubt has let down the cricket fans in this country as well as overseas according to the multitude of comments appearing on this column. Their policies and decisions have always been contrary to opinions expressed by everyone who seem to follow the game.The selection of the contracted players is just another example where very poor decisions have been made once again. The omission of Katich, McKay, Starc, O'Keefe & Warner is beyond imagination whilst the inclusion of Smith, White, Doherty, Krejza & Hastings is just poor judgement on the part of our selectors.Though Katich is not an elegant batsman to watch he is one of our best batsman whilst McKay & Starc bowled well against Sri Lanka last year.

  • Mukul on June 8, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    @rohanbala, agree with how badly Katich was treated. The way that in the past teams set up future openers was to introduce them at no.3 (like J Langer and A Cook were) the when the senior open would retire then put them in to open. But because Ponting doesn't want to move down the order, Australia will suffer. If there was a choice between Katich and Ponting, it had to be Katich because since Katich returned his record has been the 2nd best in test cricket (as stated above). Ponting record has been bad but since he is still having a say in selection therefore Katich wasn't allowed to play ODI's, despite his class and form as well as now losing the central contract and potentially his test spot. Seems like a bad decision and poorer future for Australia

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