Katich shakes Australian cricket
Simon Katich has given Australian cricket a mighty shake. In the most extraordinary public repudiation of Cricket Australia and its selectors, Katich laid bare the discontent among players around the country about the ways of the national selection panel and the part-time nature of its work.
Both Katich and his former Australian team-mate Stuart Clark were adamant about the need to implement a system whereby the selectors were employed full-time and made to be as accountable for their decisions as the players are for their performances.
In just one of many memorable lines, Katich summed up the incongruity of $2 million-earning players being judged by part-time selectors on $40,000 a year by saying "when you talk about money you get the best in the business for paying. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys".
"There's been talk about that (full-time selectors) for a while now but nothing's been done about it," Katich said. "It's a business, there's no doubt about that, that's just the way sport has gone. Being realistic it's got to go that way, because you're dealing with guys' careers. This is not just me, there's plenty of other guys out there as well who've gone through this. So maybe something good will come out of this situation.
"Technically I'm still contracted until the end of June 30. So no doubt the phone will ring and I'll probably have to answer for this. But at the same time, I'm not going to stand up here and lie about it all, because that's not going to help anyone moving forward. Hopefully the review, something good will come out of that review, because this might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back."
Having been removed from the list of CA-contracted players on Tuesday, Katich bided his time to compose himself and decide whether or not to keep playing. His announcement that he would continue for New South Wales was followed by what can only be described as a blitz of angry yet focused and carefully-chosen words about the selectors.
"I'm extremely disappointed and frustrated with the decision I found out about on Tuesday but I also want to make it clear that I know I'm not the only player who has gone through this in the last couple of years due to inconsistent policies," Katich said. "I just hope that something good comes out of this situation because I actually think the decision that came on Tuesday was absolutely ridiculous.
"It certainly didn't come as a total shock on Tuesday, only because I know how they operate. I've been through this situation before. From my point of view, to hear the news was very disappointing, particularly because of the reason that was given. To be given the reason that it's because the opening partnership needs to bed down for 2013, when I know for a fact that Watto [Shane Watson] and I have thoroughly enjoyed opening together, and it's been one of the bright spots of our team in the last two years, I find it very hard to believe that [a new partnership needs to come in].
"This is not just about me but a number of players that have felt aggrieved at how they've been treated by the selectors in particular. Not just the selectors, by CA. There's people above the selectors that make the decisions on their futures and also our players' futures because they ratify the decisions that are made.
"I'm one of a number of players that will be in this situation. Having spoken to Paul Marsh, the ACA boss, there's actually no course of appeal against this happening. As a player we've got absolutely no way apart from legal proceedings to answer back."
Katich said he and his manager Robert Joske had seriously considered legal action, via unfair dismissal laws, before reasoning that it would be better to air his grievances rather than drag them through the courts. His venom was directed as much at CA's management apparatus as the selectors themselves, who were placed in an unenviable position of having to name an early squad for the first Ashes Test due to marketing and publicity demands.
"There needs to be more consistency," Katich said. "The facts are a week or two before the Ashes a squad of 17 was named. In my opinion if you can't know what your best 11 is a week or so before our biggest Test series that we play in the Ashes, that to me reeks of indecision.
"The fact that we've had 10 or 11 spinners in the last two or three years whatever it's been, obviously some have been through retirements and injury and stuff like that, (but) that to me is another indicator of the inconsistency in selections. There's been rules for some and rules for others.
"I've got no doubt that it (the 17-man squad) did (unsettle the team) and I'm sure there'll be other players in the team saying the same thing because you've got so many guys looking over their shoulder about whether they would play or not. If you were to compare it to how England prepared, they were settled, they played the same team in all their warm-up games and no surprise that they had a very good campaign."
As for the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch and his phone call to deliver the bad news, which took place just before a fitness test for NSW players, Katich felt he deserved better.
"As soon as he told me the reason, which was what was being trotted out in the press about wanting the opening partnership to bed down for the 2013 Ashes, that got me steaming obviously," said Katich. "Because to hear that when our opening partnership is something that's been one of the strong points of the team, and something that Watto and I actually really enjoy doing. I've received a really nice message from him, of support, and expressing his disappointment that we won't get to open again.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't (consider retirement). Every thought goes through your mind, and this isn't just something I've thought about since Tuesday because I know how they operate and I could see it coming. I've only had a four-minute conversation with Andrew Hilditch on Tuesday, and I haven't heard from anyone else at CA since, and I've been involved in the organisation since 1999."
After Katich's 20 minutes of fury had concluded, Clark said it was "a joke" that the selectors were not all full-time. At present the chairman Andrew Hilditch, plus Jamie Cox and the outgoing David Boon, are employed on a part-time basis, while Greg Chappell is installed as a full-time national talent manager and selector.
"I think it's a joke that they're part-time. You're dealing with $2 million salaries and a guy that works part-time getting $40,000 a year, it's laughable," Clark said. "(Full-time) would make them more accountable. At the moment they have got some sort of accountability, but when was the last time you saw a selector sacked for a poor selection? I can't seem to remember one.
"Selection's a tough ask, you've got to balance a lot of different issues and a lot of different perspectives. Whether this is right I'm not sure, but let's just hope the selection process gets better because of this.
"He's arguably Australia's best batsman over the past three years, so for him not to be selected can only mean that they've just said 'you're too old and we want to go down a youth path' and any other job in the country that'd probably end up in court somewhere.
"A four-minute conversation is probably not enough for someone that's been part of the organisation for 12 years. How long is right I don't know, but surely Simon deserves something more than that."
Listen to the full press conference here
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo