Australia news June 16, 2011

Katich's omission a shock to me - Ponting

ESPNcricinfo staff

Ricky Ponting has said he was shocked by Cricket Australia's decision to drop Simon Katich from the list of centrally contracted players. Ponting also said Katich was justified in calling the decision to cut him from the list "absolutely ridiculous", during a forthright press conference at which he announced he would play on for New South Wales.

"It's fair to say he [Katich] didn't hold back in his press conference and rightly so as well," Ponting said on the Nine Network's AFL Footy Show. "To be omitted from the contract list was a great shock to him. It was a shock to me. His performance in the last two or three years has been as good as anybody's in the world."

The decision will put Ponting and Michael Hussey - the only two players over 35 left with a contract - under extra pressure to perform. The scrutiny on Ponting will be especially strong, given that in the past two years he has averaged 38 in Test cricket compared to Katich's mark of 48.

"It puts us 36-year-olds on notice now, Mike Hussey and myself," he said. "It's going to make us work that little bit harder. I would have liked to have another old bloke around the group with me. [But] It means a young guy gets a go and hopefully that guy can stand up and do the job for us."

Ponting's comments came as Shane Warne, commentating in England on Sky Sports, said the selectors had taken the easier decision by removing Katich instead of Ponting. He said if Ponting's form didn't improve in his post-captaincy career, it was important he not hang around and occupy a space that could be given to another player.

"It's a lot easier to drop Simon Katich than Ricky Ponting," Warne said. "I think what they're trying to do at the moment with Ricky is to say, let's take the captaincy off him and let's see how he goes. I think they'll give him a bit of a trial but I think if he's not performing then hopefully he'll put his hand up and say 'you know what, I'm going to retire'."

Trevor Bayliss, the former Sri Lanka coach, said he was as surprised as anyone to see Katich erased from Cricket Australia's plans for next summer.

"Obviously I was surprised that Simon missed out on a contract," he said after being unveiled as the new coach of the Sydney Sixers Twenty20 team. "Certainly his performances over the last few years I thought might've warranted a contract and selection in the team could go one way or the other over the next year or two. But missing out on a contract pretty much makes the decision that he's not going to play at all. So that was a bit of a surprise."

Bayliss said opponents the world over had respected Katich greatly, and knew they would need to concentrate especially hard if they were to dislodge him from the batting crease.

"Certainly he's one of the hard heads, and I know playing against Australia, the Sri Lankans for example, the opposition teams know they're going to play some hard, tough cricket to get his wicket," he said. "Whoever takes his place, there's going to be a bit of pressure on him."