Australia news June 8, 2011

Australian cricket can't afford to lose Katich - Marsh

Australian cricket cannot afford to lose Simon Katich from Sheffield Shield ranks already thin on experience, the players union chief Paul Marsh has said.

Katich is yet to decide whether to play on or retire after being told he had no recourse against the contentious decision of the national selectors to jettison him from the list of Cricket Australia-contracted players. Despite the divergence of views, the former captain Ricky Ponting has said he can understand the selectors' reasons for pushing Katich aside.

A vocal critic of Cricket Australia's unbridled push towards youth over the past handful of summers, Marsh said that Katich's years of knowledge, and hard knocks, could not be replaced.

"I'm sure he'll take a few days to decide which way he goes. Certainly from my perspective I'd love to see him stay involved in Australian cricket," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "He's one of the finest quality players, both as a player and a human being, that we have in our system, so to lose him from our system would be a bad outcome for Australian cricket.

"Australian cricket doesn't have enough experienced players around the state system at the moment … it's really important we have really quality experienced players around our state and around the national team if we're going to re-claim the No.1 spot in the world."

Ponting said he understood why Katich was no longer part of the selectors' plans, but was also sympathetic towards his now former teammate.

"He'd be devastated. Reading the paper today he didn't even want to talk to anyone yesterday being as disappointed as he was. So you can understand that," Ponting told the radio station Triple M. "He's been our most consistent batsman since he's been back in the Test team over the last four or five years, so that would've come as a huge shock to him yesterday.

"But it sounds like what the selectors have had to say about it is they want to give Hughes and Watson a couple of years' run at it leading into the next Ashes, so you can understand that thinking as well."

Marsh fielded a call from Katich's manager, Robert Joske, about whether there was any avenue of appeal, but informed him that the finality of selection decisions was not something the Australian Cricketers Association could challenge.

"We have got a dispute resolution mechanism within our MOU but it specifically excludes selection," Marsh said. "It's one of those areas where we all put our faith in the selection panel to make these decisions and the ACA has never and would never initiate a dispute around a selection issue. I think that sits outside of our remit.

"I think if we took issue with the role being performed by the national selection panel, we would look at the panel themselves and we'd discuss that with CA. But in terms of actual selections made by the panel its not something we've ever challenged.

"I feel very sorry for Simon, I think he's probably a victim of circumstances, rather than anything he's done wrong, he's been our best performed batsman over the last few years, there's no question about that, and it appears as though he's not received a contract primarily because of his age and the fact there are a couple of other players in similar age groups.

"So it's a difficult time there's no question about that, and I feel for Simon, I don't think he deserved to be in this situation, but unfortunately there's not a lot he can do I don't think."

Mark Waugh, the former Australian batsman, was cut at the age of 37 in 2002, and said Katich had done far less to deserve being dropped than he did.

"Simon Katich is unlucky because compared to me he was scoring a lot more runs than me. It's not like he's been dropped because he's been out of form," Waugh told "Are there better players? Sometimes we can get a bit carried away with age. I think it depends on fitness and whether the hunger is still there to play at the top level.

"With Ponting, Hussey and Katich, they're all pretty fit. They're not old 35-year-olds and they don't walk around the field and struggle. They're pretty fit and it's all about performance really. I think it's about performance and Katich has got the performance, so that's why he's unlucky."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo