Australia news October 12, 2011

Katich relinquishes New South Wales captaincy

ESPNcricinfo staff

Simon Katich has given up the captaincy of New South Wales and the spinner Steve O'Keefe has been appointed in his place. Described as a "succession plan" by Cricket New South Wales, the move was announced on Wednesday but first mooted during the winter, which was already a difficult time for Katich after he lost his Cricket Australia contract.

While his removal from the contract list caused Katich to unleash a well-directed stream of righteous fury at the national game's administrators and selectors, the NSW handover is believed to have been far more orderly, though the final decision took time to be announced and when it was, O'Keefe was in South Africa on Australia Twenty20 duty.

In a statement, Cricket NSW said the Blues were looking to the future by handing the leadership to O'Keefe, 26, who has captained the state side before. However, Australia's captain Michael Clarke will lead New South Wales in his rare state appearances, while Ben Rohrer will take the reins for the opening games of the season with O'Keefe's absence.

"Simon has been an outstanding captain of New South Wales for the past nine years and we are indebted to him for the service he has given in this role," David Gilbert, the chief executive of Cricket New South Wales, said. "When I discussed with him during the winter the need for a captaincy succession plan for the mid to long term, it was typical of the man that he accepted that this was the way forward. His leadership both on and off the field over the past nine years has set the benchmark."

Katich, 36, captained the Blues during their recent Champions League Twenty20 campaign in India but he will be a player only for the rest of this summer. He said he endorsed the decision for O'Keefe to take over.

"Stephen is a talented cricketer and will do an excellent job of leading the side," Katich said. "I accept and respect the decision to appoint a new captain with an eye to the future."

The move brings to an end Katich's long reign as captain, during which he led the Blues to the 2007-08 Sheffield Shield title, the 2008-09 Big Bash triumph and the 2009-10 Champions League title. Although they won other silverware during his time in charge, he did not play in the deciders due to his Australian duties.