Batsmen must be self-reliant - Katich
Last week, Cricket Australia assembled more than 20 of the nation's sharpest cricket minds at the SCG in an attempt to work out how to help the nation's struggling batsmen. Simon Katich was not among the delegates, but he has a simple piece of advice for those players fighting to establish themselves as consistent run-makers at state and international level - no one else can do it for you.
Katich's message of self-reliance was significant both for how true it was to him, as the owner of a proven batting technique few coaches would admit to having suggested, and for how far out of step it is with the ways of the 21st century game. Australian batsmen have never been surrounded by more mentors and minders. But as Katich stated so bluntly, at the moment of critical importance it is just them against the bowler.
"The harsh part of this game is that even though it's a team game it's very much an individual game, particularly batting," Katich said after making 67 for Western Australia against Victoria at North Sydney Oval. "So you can help as much as you can with advice and passing on experience, but at the end of the day you're out there on your own.
"One thing I've gathered from my career is the more self-sufficient you become as a batsman the better off you'll be, because unfortunately no one can bat for you. Everyone can help, coaches and team-mates can help with advice, but in the end it's just you against the bowler and you've got to win that battle. There's some good kids floating around the state system, no doubt, and it's a matter of them grabbing their opportunities and making the most of it."
Alongside the grabbing of opportunity and the fostering of independence, Katich joined his fellow late 30-somethings Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in arguing that the current crop of international batsmen needed to be granted faith and continuity. He recalled taking time to feel settled as an international batsman himself, and wondered if his successors have been given enough of a chance to find their feet.
"I just think people have got to be patient because it's not that easy to step into international cricket and perform straight away," he said. "There's many guys in the past that have taken time, I know myself it took time to feel comfortable at Test level. So it doesn't happen straight away but if there's patience and persistence with guys then hopefully at some point they'll reward the selectors and keep churning out consistent runs."
Katich is playing for WA after a decade out of the yellow cap due to a request by his former team-mate Justin Langer to reinforce an alarmingly thin Warriors batting order, beset by injuries, national call-ups and a wider malaise affecting the state. So far he has agreed only to play in the domestic limited-overs matches in Sydney, but Langer is pushing him to go on to four-day duty.
"I want to be able to walk in the front door of my house in the next couple of months," Katich joked in reference to a Sheffield Shield schedule of six matches in as many weeks after the limited-overs tournament concludes. "I'm pretty sure Justin will keep chipping away at me, he has been the last few months.
"But I'm happy with my decision, I'm happy to be helping the boys out as well, in extreme circumstances, where a number got injured before the Champions League and we've lost three or four of our senior players to the India tour. I guess the timing of it all was nice to try to help the boys out by playing this week and giving them some experience. I am grateful for having started my career in WA, and from that point of view it's nice to help out in this way."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here