Australia news June 12, 2011

Minister pans selectors over Katich

ESPNcricinfo staff

Simon Katich's contentious removal from the 25-man list of Cricket Australia contracts has moved the federal defence minister, Stephen Smith, to make his own unbridled attack on the national selectors.

Unlike on the subcontinent where the crossover between the sporting and legislative realms is frequent and often fevered, Australian cricket and politics seldom collide.

But Smith had no hesitation in making his feelings known when questioned about the decision on the Insiders program on Australian television.

Like Katich a West Australian by birth, Smith said the decision ranked with any of the poorest calls made by selectors in Australian cricket history.

"Well historically of course there have been a series of atrocities committed by the Australian Cricket Board or Cricket Australia or the Australian selectors against Western Australian cricketers but this one is extraordinary. This one is very high at the top of the list," Smith said.

"I mean this is a bloke who over the last 30 Tests he's played has got nearly 3,000 runs, an average of 50 and done better than Ponting and Mike Hussey.

"So it's an extraordinary decision. And regrettably whilst it's always easy to take a shot at selectors I think it says a lot more about the selectors than it does about Simon Katich and I think frankly it has sent very much a message which has undermined confidence in the selectors that they're really up to the task in terms of managing a transition to the next generation of Australian cricketers.

"Simon Katich has the resolve and the determination that you want to have during hard times. So it's an extraordinary decision. If he's not in the top 25 Australian cricketers - and I can't find one better opener than him on that list, let alone two - then I'll go hee for chasey."

CA's head of cricket operations, Michael Brown, maintained the organisation's defence of the selectors.

'I certainly don't support the idea that [if] you pay peanuts you get monkeys. A lot of people work in cricket, which is essentially a volunteered game, who are incredibly talented, incredibly qualified and incredibly committed but do the best they can because they love the game,'' Brown told The Sunday Age. ''If that step to professionalism is enhanced by having full-time selectors then cricket will move in that direction but just by making people full-time doesn't automatically give you the best outcome.

"You have got to have the best people, the best structures, the best position description for them, and make sure they are accountable. If we are about making the game go forward that issue needs to be considered and I'm sure it will be by the [Argus] Team Performance Review.

'This panel puts on the ground what it thinks is the best team to win every game of cricket it plays in, it doesn't bat and bowl. Yes it has [been] accountable for selection and for outcomes once performances have been made but to say that the selection panel has lost Ashes series, that's incorrect.''

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