Simon Katich's axing from the Australia squad

Sound and fury signifying much

International opponents have known for years how feisty Simon Katich can be as an adversary, and now Cricket Australia has been similarly enlightened

Daniel Brettig

June 10, 2011

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Gautam Gambhir and Simon Katich exchange words, India v Australia, 3rd Test, Delhi, 1st day, October 29, 2008
Andrew Hilditch and his selection panel pulled an incendiary rein by choosing to cut Katich out of their plans © AFP
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It was entirely fitting that Simon Katich delivered his stream of righteous fury about Australian cricket from the Cricket New South Wales lecture theatre at the SCG.

Katich dished out some harsh truths, the likes of which no one in a position of authority at Cricket Australia has yet been prepared to address in public. They will have to now, after Andrew Hilditch and his selection panel pulled what has quickly become an incendiary rein, cutting Katich out of their plans despite all he had done with the bat over the preceding three years.

Often an angered player has rounded on his critics in order to clear his head, and then promptly resumed his normal stance. The early sound and fury has often signified nothing. But Katich's outburst was highly meaningful at a time when Australian cricket is examining its very marrow in the search for better results and better balance.

International opponents have known for years how feisty Katich can be as an adversary, and Michael Clarke discovered it to his detriment in the SCG dressing room in 2009. Now CA have been similarly enlightened.

Katich's temper, and willingness to scrap, are widely known. But he is also among the shrewdest figures in the Australian game. In the Australian Test team he was, by a distance, the most experienced state captain, and among the best performed. Neither Ricky Ponting nor Clarke had anything like Katich's captaincy pedigree before being handed the national job. The Katich who faced the media in the lecture theatre was angry, yes, but exceptionally controlled.

By choosing his words carefully, Katich had the maximum impact on those he felt had wronged him. The selectors, who have toyed with his career more than once without having anything like the same investment in their decisions as Katich did in his cricket. The Cricket Australia management hierarchy that appoints the selectors and remained deaf to ever louder calls for a fully professional process. And the marketeers who destabilised the Test team ahead of the Ashes by forcing the announcement of an unwieldy 17-man squad to a deadline that was for publicity rather than purposes of cricket.

One of the few to evade Katich's wrath was Clarke. Katich dismissed any contention that their two-year-old dressing room dust-up had played a part in his removal: "I'm not going to shy away from the fact we had the incident a couple of years ago, but I think we've both been really professional in handling that the last two years, and it hasn't really been a problem since then, so I don't think that's an issue." It was the most conciliatory thing Katich said for 20 minutes.

Even amid such grave matters, there was still room for humour. Katich started off by apologising for the stubble that better reflects his 35-year-old self than a clean chin might have done. He also answered a query about a Twenty20 future by saying "not really, when you consider the way I play". A cue for knowing grins all round.

But the most telling words arrived when he resorted to cliché. So often such terms have been used by cricketers or administrators to gloss over the truth of a matter, but in this case the circumstances made them sound utterly appropriate, even profound.

When asked about the need to pay selectors a wage commensurate with what was expected of them, Katich replied: "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys."

As he pondered the ramifications of his words, Katich hoped for a positive outcome stemming from the concurrent investigations of the Don Argus review into the Australian team's performance. "Hopefully the review, something good will come out of that review," he said. "Because this might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back."

Some straw. Some camel.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by popcorn on (June 12, 2011, 10:35 GMT)

I think CA should look at how Tassie planned and executed their plan to win the Sheffield Shield Title. Justin Langer, Mark Taylor,Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting,Simon Katich, Mike Hussey,were scrapers.They wouln't give their wicket away. As to the new crop of youngsters,there's a fair amount of good players.The old fashioned Aussie way was to give out Baggy Greens stingily.That's the way to go. These new guys have to scrap for their Baggy Green. Like Usman Khawaja. Not like Xavier Dougherty,Michael Beer,Steve Smith.

Posted by hyclass on (June 11, 2011, 13:50 GMT)

The idea that there is a dearth of quality players in australian cricket is very poorly informed.As in any organisation,when those tasked to manage it are not held accountable,lack intelligence,or serve their own interests,then even the most iconic brands will fail.One only has to look as far and as recently as Toyota in the USA.Im certain all good Indian bloggers will also remember their recent tribulations with Chappell and that was only one man.Australia is abundant with cricketing talent.Unfortunately,the highly successful,century-old institutions and the professional centres of excellence that propogate that talent,are being savaged by an administration whose incompetence is only exceeded by its self-servitude.Ive heard from Sutherland and Chappell that the shield is no good and that curators are to blame or that we need talent spotters and new formats.Utter rubbish.It is less we need.Less interference with due process.Less scandalous management.Less ill treatment of players.

Posted by popcorn on (June 11, 2011, 11:35 GMT)

Andrew Hilditch should resign immediately.Greg Chappell should take over as Chairman of Selectors. Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh should be inducted.

Posted by shortofalength on (June 11, 2011, 10:06 GMT)

Aust selectors have had the easiest job in world cricket for the last 20 years. Anyone who had a rudimentary interest in cricket could have picked a team with Warne. McGrath, Gilchrist, Waughs etc. Now that it actually comes to finding talent and working it into the Test team we have seen that the current selectors have no idea what they are doing. A merry go round of spinners (Beer anyone?), Bolly picked when he was clearly injured, Hilfenhaus couldn't get dropped no matter how bad he bowled, Hughes (a Test opener?), North couldn't get the ball off the square but kept getting picked. Meanwhile the veterans that made Shield cricket the strongest domestic comp in the world have been moved out to bring "young talent" in. The standard has dropped to B team standard. I assume the Argus review will be a Yes Minister exercise, everyone will keep their cushy jobs, business as usual. It looks like a long summer(s) ahead.

Posted by   on (June 11, 2011, 9:32 GMT)

Imagine how refreshingly honest he'd be after a day's in the press box as the Aust XI Capt. Much better than the siege mentality of Ponting & the cliche driven Clarke. My god press interviews with Clarke will be boring & uninformative, you could write the script before he speaks :)

Posted by GDFactor on (June 11, 2011, 8:14 GMT)

Greg Chappell - great batsman, poor anything else Ricky Ponting - past his best, why is still still playing, reducing his legacy Michael Clarke - needs to be given a go by the public, his captaincy may not be a reflected by results, think he will do ok Simon Katich - wrong older played dropped Steve Waugh and co - responsible for current predicament, played too long yet on the review committee

Posted by Aibak on (June 11, 2011, 4:31 GMT)

I am an Aussie fan. The biggest problem at the moment with CA is that they are just focusing on Ashes 2013 not any other series. This might even result in the Australian team losing the test series this year.

Posted by squidhead on (June 11, 2011, 3:34 GMT)

@bobbo2 - I may be wrong but I'm guessing Ponting and M. Hussey have also played their last tests and got their contracts only because they might be considered for ODIs and/or T20s whereas, of course, Katich would not. Nothing would surprise me now from this lot. If so, it's gonna be tough to watch Aussie cricket with any enjoyment for the next few years. I don't know how much lower it can sink, especially if/when this review finds that everything's just fine. Don't think it won't happen, CA are like Teflon.

Posted by maddy20 on (June 11, 2011, 3:04 GMT)

@Jim1207 It is safe to Say that BCCI has learned from CA's mistakes. That is why why we are blooding our next generation cricketers "BEFORE" the seniors like Sachin, VVS, Dravid etc., retire

Posted by crikey on (June 11, 2011, 2:40 GMT)

To youngkeepersdad . I will third that sentiment.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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