Australia news October 24, 2013

CA admits mistake in dropping Katich


Two years and four months after the decision was made to summarily remove Simon Katich from the list of contracted players in order to draft more youth into the Test team, Cricket Australia has conceded that it was a poor decision on their part.

The chairman, Wally Edwards, made the admission while stressing the importance of experience in the national team, and suggesting that the lack of it had been the major reason for a pair of dire tours to India and England this year.

Katich's dumping has been decried by many, not least by the man himself, and most recently, former captain Ricky Ponting called it "as dumb a non-selection as any during my time in the Australian team" in his autobiography, At the Close of Play. Edwards, who was not CA chairman at the time, said that the decision to remove Katich had been considered part of the team's regeneration, but must now be seen for what it was: a mistake.

"We as a board, and with management talk continuously about our transition, we knew we were going from a super side to a new side, and we worked very hard at it," Edwards said following CA's AGM in Melbourne. "There was a focus with the selectors and there was a lot of decisions made that in hindsight you probably wish they weren't. But they were made with an attempt to move from a very strong side to a new side.

"I would put the dropping of Simon Katich in that corner. That was a decision made by the selectors at the time because you had three guys - Katich, Ponting and Hussey - all the same age and three key batters who were all going to go at once. The selectors made a judgment call to try to transition through that and didn't get it right. Katich would've been a valuable player. But that's their call.

"The reality of life is experience is a big part in winning Test matches and you only have to look at the experience levels of the South African team, the English team and our team to see where we're at. I'm confident we're on the right path."

The folly of the Katich decision, made by a selection panel that included Andrew Hilditch as chairman alongside Greg Chappell and Jamie Cox, has been highlighted in recent weeks by his strong showings for Western Australia in the domestic limited-overs competition, long after both Ponting and Michael Hussey retired. The chief executive, James Sutherland, who endorsed the decision at the time, has now said that his experience was "invaluable" to the Test team.

"We are working through a cycle that will see the Australian team get back on top in the foreseeable future," Sutherland said. "People don't understand the challenges of developing a cricket team with only 11 players. Experience is invaluable at Test level," he said. "Unless you build experience and develop the hardness of playing Test cricket at the highest level, you cannot consistently perform. It's very difficult to manage that transition.

"What do you do with a team that is very successful? Do you put more young people into that team in order to create opportunities to blood youth, and in the process drop some of the greats of the game. How do you manage that transition? It's different in a football code where you've got 22 players and you can have five or six players who are there racking up games and getting experience. A Test cricket team is a different environment.

"But I'm not sitting here making excuses. We're very much focused on the future, and we're working on a transition that will see the Australian cricket team back to where we all want it to be."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mick on October 26, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    Katich was dropped at a time he was injured after 3 years of being "the" Australian batsman. They wanted a new young opener. Katich could easily have moved to No. 3, his rightful position as the best Australian batsman in the team. Ponting, Clarke and Hussey were not exactly in peak form at the time.

    O.K. He and Clarke were not best pals. Who cares? Greatly different personalities. People of different styles have to learn to work together despite strong disagreements.

    Consistently Australia has been over obsessed by picking youth. Experience is far more important. Pick those players that have been performing at top level consistently for years. It does not matter if they are only 2 years away from retirement.

    O.K. When a young player of brilliance comes along, like a Tendulkar, or a Ponting, they must also be picked. Focus on reliability first, suitability for the venue (green track or spinners paradise), brilliance 3rd and youth is just not part of the equation. Stability? Ha ha!

  • Rajaram on October 26, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    Check this out, and you will agree that I am not wrong. Australia's downward slide began when Simon Katich was dropped for Phil Hughes. Both Hughes and Warner have been disasters for Australian Test Cricket. They just don't know how to stay put at the crease. They flash, they nick, thay cannot graft like Justin Langer or Simon Katich. and when the Opening partnership does noy lay a solid foundation, the opposition moves into the crack in the door. At least now, having admitted their mistake, I hope the Selectors will stay with Ed Cowan and Chris Rogers as openers throughout The Ashes Series in Australia, and make it a mandate for the State Side Coaches and COE's Graeme Hick to groom a crop of Test Openers.

  • Brady on October 25, 2013, 22:24 GMT

    @ Chris_P on (October 25, 2013, 6:28 GMT) : His averages in the last two series he participated in were 27.5 and 24.5 (over a total of 8 innings). Hardly Bradman like. But as I said, he should have been persisted with.

  • Dummy4 on October 25, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    and there we have it. 35 and injured and averaging 23 and three guys over 35 and the team in decline but nobody wants to talk about metrics.

    I too am glad I am not a selector because the Australian cricket fan can never ever deal with seeing a hero retire. maybe you should be like me and revel in days like 77-8 when we changed 5 guys for the last test against India and won. we were lucky to see guys for 5 years back then, and we appreciated them when they were there and welcomed the next one that came in. when we picked guys at 19 because that was the Australian way.

    selection as if it mattered, rather than sinecure.

    it's a cricket team, not the Beatles.

    or look at the AFL. list management. for the future - in the form of continued success.

    anyway, my piece has been said, I flushed out a couple of fellow travellers, we might go with Warnie and John Benaud and start a rival Logan's Run site.

  • Justin on October 25, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    If Kat kept his rants to just the one when he was first axed i think he would have been in contention for a call back with rogers. If memory recalls correctly i think he had a second public spat about something - if only he kept that one to himself. I think he was right to be annoyed with how he was treated - it was a shame to see him go out in that way. At least he gets some acknowledgement at an official level now.

  • Justin on October 25, 2013, 16:25 GMT

    @Peter JW - your comments make me glad that your not a selector. I would have hated to miss the likes of Ponting and Hussey playing live when i went to the SCG to watch them play India (i was disappointed that they didnt make it to ENG for the Ashes). You just have to look at players like Ponting and a few of the other old boys of that generation who go back to state / county cricket and rack up the runs (roger included). They are still way ahead of the younger generation - esp their grit for run scoring. You cant put a price on 10,000 runs, the experience of the player, their work ethic and leadership off the field.

  • Dummy4 on October 25, 2013, 9:04 GMT

    It was obvious that CA had realised they made a mistake when they picked Chris Rogers. With all respect due to Rogers (and there is a fair bit of that), he's the Katich that you pick when you can't pick Katich.

    Katich was shafted originally because he hated Michael Clarke. And fair call too, despite Clarke being a fine cricketer he's very unlikeable - and part of the reason for that is his treatment of Katich.

    Anyway, I do agree with Peter that we should be giving some of these guys a go when they're young. Unfortunately I don't think too many of the young players are in the same class as Hayden Martyn Langer Ponting S Waugh M Clarke

  • Dummy4 on October 25, 2013, 8:41 GMT

    Ed, fair enough. I would have dropped all 3 of the old guys. I would have dropped Hayden, Langer, Martyn. Nobody gets better as they get older. Except Hussey, and he was terrible for 12-18 months.

    I still remember the golden days of the batting elites being blooded at 19-22 - Hayden Martyn Langer Ponting S Waugh M Clarke all in that boat. I remember Greg Chappell saying he woke up one day at 34 and his eyes had gone - ditto Barry Richards.

    That's my philosophy. Get em in young and get em out before they go grey. We are not England! As Trotsky might have said, selection is a school, not a science in the pure sense.

    I reckon if it weren't for Hussey we wouldn't even be debating this. But for every Mike HUssey I can think of 10 Marcus North... Ross Edwards... Brad Hidge types.

    if in doubt, go for youth. today doesn't matter, it's all about tomorrow - well, 2-3 years time when we again have the best and mostest batting line up in the world.

    not that I really care. I hate batsmen!

  • Cameron on October 25, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    Agree with rappedinthepads "We're probably the only sport that is happy to mess up the present for the joys of some distant future". Far too much emphasis is based on potential and planning for the future. Pick the best team to win the match. Develop state cricketers, make the competition tough. How complicated is it?

  • Dummy4 on October 25, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    Peter! I didn't mean to make it personal. My apologies! I think a lot of people like me are in the similar view on here that Katich got shafted at the time. I understand your point of view and actually agree with alot of other the points you said. However as I pointed out in my previous post, the stats are more in Katich's favor if you take a wider sample of 5matches that included a tour of India that Australian batsman always find hard. Selectors don't get it right all the time but it's hard not to deny that selections in recent times have not been justified. The problem is there has been no accountability for these continued mistakes and in any other business a performance review would of been done and action would of been done, but unfortunately sport administration doesn't have the same accountability.

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