June 15, 2011

Katich out of the bag

Players across sports have taken legal action for wrongful dismissal. The Australian opener could do the same, but financial compensation will hardly also bring a recall
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Graham Morris, that evergreen and ever-ready master of lens and shutter, served up an enchanting shot of Muttiah Muralitharan and Graeme Swann for readers of the London Times last Thursday. Murali was animation personified: arms folded but fingers darting east and west, eyes ablaze, smile a-dazzling, rabbiting twenty to the dozen. Hands curled in schoolboyish obedience behind his back, trademark grin displaced by a soft semi-smile, Swann was hanging on every syllable, every pearl of wisdom, gaze undivided, eyes exuding undying respect, even awe. Sadly one can only fantasise about the grimmer splendours Morris might have achieved had his subjects been Andrew Hilditch and Simon Katich.

Forget the retributive powers of the fairer sex. Hell, apparently, hath no fury like a Katich scorned. On the day Morris snapped Murali and Swanny, the New South Welshman delivered an intemperate but highly articulate, and far from unjustified, tirade against Hilditch and the rest of Australia's beleaguered national selectors for not renewing his contract. He even admitted he had considered legal action. Maybe he felt forewarned and forearmed by Curt Flood, who took Major League Baseball all the way to the Supreme Court four decades ago to challenge the right of the St Louis Cardinals to trade him to the Philadelphia Phillies against his wishes. Flood, whose biography was entitled A Well-Paid Slave, paved the way for free agency but lost both the case and a fortune, and sacrificed his career. Then there's Jean-Marc Bosman, the Belgian whose 1995 legal challenge in the European Court of Human Rights performed a similarly priceless service for footballers, before he sank into depression and alcoholism. Such is the mountain facing Katich and perhaps why, to date, he has decided against following suit.

For Katich in 2011 read David Gower in 1992. He may have usurped Geoff Boycott as England's most prolific Test run-maker and collected three hundreds in his last five matches, but the beloved entertainer was still dumped for the tour of India. Age, again, was cited. In reality, to out-going team manager Mickey Stewart and captain Graham Gooch, the alleged friend whose own Test career he had once saved, Gower was one of the "champagne boys" (along with Ian Botham and Allan Lamb) who were apparently setting a bad example in their aversion to grim seriousness.

The outcry reverberated far and wide. Gooch and Stewart, fumed one Guardian reader, had "spoiled a great sport for millions of us for no perceptibly good reason". Lords, MPs and newspaper editors joined forces with Tim Rice and Harold Pinter to propose an MCC motion of no confidence in the selectors, and won the vote at Westminster's Methodist Central Hall (though the postal vote, crucially, went the other way). However laudable, it was a futile gesture. Livid with Gooch for informing him of his omission just 40 minutes before the squad was announced - on a crackly prehistoric mobile phone line, in a tunnel - Gower, who sensibly distanced himself from the raging clamour, could bask in this reassuring hug of public affection, but the Roundheads prevailed.

Cases for unfair dismissal are rife nowadays, and properly so. The right to contest a decision that fundamentally affects your life has been hard won; it should be inviolable. Why should sport be exempt? Raymond Domenech demanded 2.9 million euros from the French Football Federation last November after being sacked as national coach in the wake of a pitiful World Cup campaign kiboshed by a player revolt. Tony Greig, Mike Procter and John Snow famously took the Test and County Cricket Board to the High Court to overturn the suspensions from county cricket that were the knee-jerk response to World Series Cricket. What killed it for the TCCB was their contractual relationship with the plaintiffs: they didn't have one.

Neil Burns and Carl Crowe struck a telling blow in 2003 when Leicestershire made a settlement that effectively conceded the club had no right to sack them without fair notice and procedure. "Cricketers," Tim Kevan, a barrister specialising in sport, assured me, "are being empowered." Chris Schofield, once England's Great White Legspin Hope, benefited two years later, a tribunal upholding his claim that Lancashire's late decision to "release" him (don't you just love the delicious irony of that gentlemanly euphemism?) had hindered his marketability. Yet the victory was hollow; worse, Schofield told me, the months of wrangling left him "in bits".

Board contracts, meanwhile, have added grist to the players' mill. Indeed, as long ago as January 2002, Tim May, then chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, said administrators should be prepared for the possibility of players suing for unfair severance. Cue Katich. What if he did sue Cricket Australia? Let's eavesdrop on m' learned friends' opening statements, as enacted for the Hollywood blockbuster It Ain't Cricket:

Prosecution counsel (Al Pacino): "Ladeez and gennelmen of the jury, this is the biggest no-brainer since The Don himself - Bradman not Corleone - had to decide between becoming a cricketer or a jockey. I ain't never heard of anything so grossly unfair, so scandalously unjust, so utterly spiteful, as the treatment meted out to my client. Look at him. Look at his eyes. Look at how they glisten with pain and anger and loss. Is this a man who has nothing left to give? Does he not deserve your compassion? I trust you will agree with me - I know will agree with me - that this is a man wronged. Dreadfully, disgustingly, despicably wronged."

Defence counsel (Jack Nicholson): "Ladies and, ahem, gentlemen of the joo… ooory, with all due deference to my unlearned goombah friend, what we have here is a travesty of a mockery of a farce. To deny an employer his innate right to fire any employee at any time, let alone one who wilfully sends spectators to sleep for the sake of his own precious average, is simply un-Australian. You might as well castrate the kangaroos."

HOW FAR, THOUGH, COULD ALL THIS GO? If Jimmy Anderson is declared fit at the Rose Bowl, it would be fascinating, for instance, to be inside Steven Finn's head at 10am tomorrow.

At Lord's last week, the stringbean from Watford became the youngest Pom to nab 50 Test wickets, supplanting Ian Botham. And still the carpers carp. Not that they are being entirely unreasonable. He can be generous in line and length, yes, and while an average of 26.92 is enough for 13th place among those who have sent down upwards of 100 overs during the past 24 months, an economy rate of 3.89 runs per over dumps him down to 62nd. Like Botham, he is a lucky bowler, apt to take wickets with undeserving balls, but that's surely more pro than con. Besides, look at the hard currency. Of the 320 bowlers who have taken 50-plus Test wickets this century or last, Finn ranks third in strike rate (41.4), behind Shane Bond (38.7) and Dale Steyn (39.9). Of the 54 who have delivered 150-plus overs during the past two years, his rate of conquest tops the lot.

The bottom line is not complex. On current form, who would you back to keep Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in the doldrums and give Hampshire a rollicking start to its inaugural Test - Finn or Stuart Broad? Granted, Broad's bat is increasingly living up to its owner's name, but against the post-Murali Sri Lanka, being listed at No. 8 is no guarantee of taking guard. Besides, while England persist with a four-man attack - probably 20% too few in a DRS-free series against India - the likeliest wicket-takers should be deployed. But what if Broad got the nod and fury consumed Finn, triggering a spiral that left him floundering in depression's bottomless pit?

Rewind to Adelaide 1998. Alex Tudor, a strapping, gifted young quick who could bat a bit, had just marked his Test debut in Perth by nailing Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting and the Waughs, but did that ensure retention? Not on your nelly. Gooch, now England's tour manager, explained that, having gone one down in the series, more experienced arms were required. But as he subsequently let slip, he also didn't want the boy getting too big for his britches and thinking this international lark was a piece of the proverbial cake.

Quite what message this sent can only be guessed at, but let's content ourselves with two observations: 1) Tudor, despite his belligerence and bouncers, was a gentle soul who needed more encouragement than most, not least since he was a black man in a predominantly white team, and 2) he never came remotely close to fulfilling that seemingly abundant promise. Could linkage be proven? Never mind Mike Brearley; even Johnnie Cochrane might balk at picking up that gauntlet. A case of this ilk, nevertheless, may not be far away.

Sure, taken to its logical extreme, this could all get a bit silly. A dropped batsman could base a suit on having averaged 0.13 more than a rival. And yes, provided they can justify their choices on cricketing or behavioural grounds, of course selectors should be able to select without fear of men brandishing briefs. Katich's cause, nonetheless, remains just. But will he have the courage or heart to pursue it, knowing that financial recompense could hardly be accompanied by a recall unless the part-time "monkeys" concerned are fired? To set a legal precedent will require a Flood-like selflessness. Mind you, he could always settle for the lesser goal of regime change.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on June 18, 2011, 21:48 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost - sorry, I was mainly commenting on "...career was over.." which I don't think is certain... yet!

  • Naresh2 on June 18, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    the guy who should have been dropped in Punter. This guy has been out of form, playing a decent innings only once in a wee while (liek the last WC hundred).

    Now it is said he will share his experience with the youngsters (exactly who are these youngsters is a question though). and what experience will he share "well mates when you have a bowling attack with Shane and Pidge and Gilly standing behind (and the front too), is mighty easy".

    You keep Katich, and you have a no 3 that will do a lot better than Punter. that gives you room to blood a new opener. Funny Guru Greg could not figure that one out.

    BTW...loved that Pacino and Nicholson bit.

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 17, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    Meety why would I want Punter's career to be over? I don't have a dog in this fight. My only point is that it is harder for the selectors to keep Katich in the team with Punter and Hussey also nearing the end of their career than it would be if he were the only guy in his mid thirties. I haven't expressed an opinion as to weather Katich, Ponting, both or neither should be in the team.

  • Ajayvs on June 17, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Everybody keeps talking about Katich, But the bloke i pity the most is Brad Hodge. He is way more talented than some the cricketers who have represented Australia recently like Marcus north and others. I wonder how he must be feeling being ignored after scoring tons of runs every year.

  • Meety on June 17, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    @s.sreekant - re: Bracken, thats because he never recovered, & to this day still wears a massive brace on his knee! Regarding Clark, he was briefly re-selected in England, & YES I fully agree is a thinking cricketer, his best value these days is that in the Shield format his economy rate was about 2 rpo. He wasn't geting many wickets, I think he knew he was never going to get back to where he was - same with Stuey MacGill, except he just called it stumps quite abruptly. @Truemans_Ghost - maybe you WANT Punters career to be over, but given his last international match innings was a 100, I think he should be given every opportunity to see whther the fire has burned out.

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 16, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    By the way, on the Katich (non) selection, my hypothesis is: if Ricky had fallen on his sword, accepting his pretty damn glorious career was over, the team wouldn't look so old and the selectors probably wouldn't have felt the same pressure to drop Katich. Thoughts?

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 16, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    @Boundary _Lurker, all that you say may be true (the 17 man squad thing was especially bizaare), but these are decsions which have to be made in this way. You might believe the judgement of those making them is flawed,and they should be sacked but subjecting subjective sporting decisions to legal process would be far worse. It would inevitably lead to a low-risk approach to selection with selctors afraid of a legal challenge. It would be a real Pandora's box.What next? Sue Johnson for negligence if he bowls 1/2 dozen wides? Sue Collingwood for the emotional distress he causes when scratches out an ugly 30? OK, maybe the last one is justified.....

  • s.sreekant on June 16, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    @meety agree bracken was injured but was never given a chance to prove himself if he was worthy or not about stuey poor fellow he also was nt gvn chance even he lost pace a bit he had that nagging line n length and also was a thinking cricketer.

  • Meety on June 16, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    @s.sreekant - hey mate, Bracken was a long term injury & is retired now. Stuey Clark (love the guy), lost several yards of pace from his back injury several years ago. He is a testing bowler now but he hasn't really taken many wickets in a long time.

  • s.sreekant on June 16, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    just think how bracken wolud have felt when he was dropped of the contract after being the best odi bowler of the world and how stuart clarke would have felt after being dropped from the team he is one of the few bolwer who keeps running in and hitting the spot,how can such a bowler be dropped,all these guys myst have felt disgusted about their career going down after performing. But katich should not take legal action as it would send CA spiraling down and would lead to more problems,even katich wins and comes back into the team,his mind would be unstable.

  • Meety on June 18, 2011, 21:48 GMT

    @Truemans_Ghost - sorry, I was mainly commenting on "...career was over.." which I don't think is certain... yet!

  • Naresh2 on June 18, 2011, 2:30 GMT

    the guy who should have been dropped in Punter. This guy has been out of form, playing a decent innings only once in a wee while (liek the last WC hundred).

    Now it is said he will share his experience with the youngsters (exactly who are these youngsters is a question though). and what experience will he share "well mates when you have a bowling attack with Shane and Pidge and Gilly standing behind (and the front too), is mighty easy".

    You keep Katich, and you have a no 3 that will do a lot better than Punter. that gives you room to blood a new opener. Funny Guru Greg could not figure that one out.

    BTW...loved that Pacino and Nicholson bit.

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 17, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    Meety why would I want Punter's career to be over? I don't have a dog in this fight. My only point is that it is harder for the selectors to keep Katich in the team with Punter and Hussey also nearing the end of their career than it would be if he were the only guy in his mid thirties. I haven't expressed an opinion as to weather Katich, Ponting, both or neither should be in the team.

  • Ajayvs on June 17, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Everybody keeps talking about Katich, But the bloke i pity the most is Brad Hodge. He is way more talented than some the cricketers who have represented Australia recently like Marcus north and others. I wonder how he must be feeling being ignored after scoring tons of runs every year.

  • Meety on June 17, 2011, 0:06 GMT

    @s.sreekant - re: Bracken, thats because he never recovered, & to this day still wears a massive brace on his knee! Regarding Clark, he was briefly re-selected in England, & YES I fully agree is a thinking cricketer, his best value these days is that in the Shield format his economy rate was about 2 rpo. He wasn't geting many wickets, I think he knew he was never going to get back to where he was - same with Stuey MacGill, except he just called it stumps quite abruptly. @Truemans_Ghost - maybe you WANT Punters career to be over, but given his last international match innings was a 100, I think he should be given every opportunity to see whther the fire has burned out.

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 16, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    By the way, on the Katich (non) selection, my hypothesis is: if Ricky had fallen on his sword, accepting his pretty damn glorious career was over, the team wouldn't look so old and the selectors probably wouldn't have felt the same pressure to drop Katich. Thoughts?

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 16, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    @Boundary _Lurker, all that you say may be true (the 17 man squad thing was especially bizaare), but these are decsions which have to be made in this way. You might believe the judgement of those making them is flawed,and they should be sacked but subjecting subjective sporting decisions to legal process would be far worse. It would inevitably lead to a low-risk approach to selection with selctors afraid of a legal challenge. It would be a real Pandora's box.What next? Sue Johnson for negligence if he bowls 1/2 dozen wides? Sue Collingwood for the emotional distress he causes when scratches out an ugly 30? OK, maybe the last one is justified.....

  • s.sreekant on June 16, 2011, 7:24 GMT

    @meety agree bracken was injured but was never given a chance to prove himself if he was worthy or not about stuey poor fellow he also was nt gvn chance even he lost pace a bit he had that nagging line n length and also was a thinking cricketer.

  • Meety on June 16, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    @s.sreekant - hey mate, Bracken was a long term injury & is retired now. Stuey Clark (love the guy), lost several yards of pace from his back injury several years ago. He is a testing bowler now but he hasn't really taken many wickets in a long time.

  • s.sreekant on June 16, 2011, 4:54 GMT

    just think how bracken wolud have felt when he was dropped of the contract after being the best odi bowler of the world and how stuart clarke would have felt after being dropped from the team he is one of the few bolwer who keeps running in and hitting the spot,how can such a bowler be dropped,all these guys myst have felt disgusted about their career going down after performing. But katich should not take legal action as it would send CA spiraling down and would lead to more problems,even katich wins and comes back into the team,his mind would be unstable.

  • vatsap on June 15, 2011, 23:03 GMT

    Bloody Gooch. Although in later years one could try and make an attempt to understand his perspective on building his own team and discipline and all that bla ... it was a shocking to see Gower dropped in 1992 and we in India missed seeing him for possibly one last time. To rub it in, Gooch plays for 4 more successful years (as a Batsman) and tops Gower in the runs scored.

  • Chase_HQ on June 15, 2011, 22:51 GMT

    yep - excellent article. Your examples illustrate the point well. Tudor was messed about by the team (Graham Thorpe?), but ultimately it was injuries that did for him in the end. Katich deserves his place because he is a proven performer and in good form, but youngsters aren't and there is an element of chance and luck at this stage. Finn's claim is by no means watertight, while although Broad's figures don't look great, it's worth looking at his stats in games in which there is a result. Given the number of pudding pitches cricket is played on nowadays (->draws), his figures are pretty good. So yes, Broad is the proven performer and deserves his place, but a couple of bad tests and Finn will be given another go (esp if he sorts his technical failings). This is a healthy selection situation - in which merit is rewarded. The cricket australia case is not.

  • The_boundary_lurker on June 15, 2011, 17:15 GMT

    @ Truemans_Ghost,

    Yeeees, "decisions have to be made by selectors not lawyers" but when those selectors are making horrendous decisions (cutting up Katich's contract despite him being arguably the most consistent Australian batsman of recent years, selecting Xavier bleeding Doherty, announcing a 17 man squad 1 week before the Ashes creating uncertainty among players, blooding quicks who are the wrong side of 30 while young bowlers in Sheffield Shield are averaging under 20, I could go on and on and on) and then having the temerity to say they're doing "a really good job" the players have a right to question this.

    We can only hope that the promised review will recommend greater accountability from selectors and perhaps suggest that making pivotal decisions which directly affect the performance of a national team, and also the lives and livelihoods of individuals is a job that should perhaps be taken fairly seriously as a full time position.

  • on June 15, 2011, 15:00 GMT

    Super stuff ,Rob.Thanks! Besides Alex Tudor,another match-winning English fast bowler -Devon Malcolm,was also extremely shabbily treated by the MCC selectors and his captains of which the arrogant ,stiff upper lip Michael Atherton was one.Wonder if it's any coincidence that Malcolm was black. But again this was the same insensitive Atherton who declared when Graeme Hick was 98 not out against the Aussies.Who knows how damaging that was to Hicks' morale and his career.Mark Ramprakash might have benefited also with better man management from his captains-the glittering example would be that of Mike Brearley's sfabulous handling of Ian Botham in the gamechanging 1981 series against the Aussies. In India we have wo prime examples of Salim Durrani(wayward?)7Chetan Chauhan getting a v raw deal from the selectors

  • InnocentGuy on June 15, 2011, 14:19 GMT

    It's simple, he doesn't have to do anything. Phil and Watto won't nearly be as potent as Katich and Watto. No offense to Phil. Maybe he deserves a chance too. But not at the cost of Katich, and not right now. Just wait for 1 series and the selectors will come running after Katich to get him back into the team. Personally, I think it would be a bad idea for Katich to go the legal route. That said, if this means the end of his career anyway, it makes no difference to him if he wins or loses a legal battle should he decide to file a lawsuit. At least, if he wins, it would set a good precedent for the future. In any case, the motive behind taking up a legal battle isn't to win it and set things right rather to prove a point to the boards that if you mess with the players, they will hit back. Bad publicity for a senseless board is as good as the board losing a legal battle.

  • banter123 on June 15, 2011, 11:11 GMT

    Oh Rob,you are a fantastic writer mate.Technically your wriiting has so little faults and your observations are upto the point.You don't get this type of aweome writers in any sports,one of the reasons i loved Cricinfo

  • on June 15, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    A lot of players suffer from the same thing in a lot of sports. Biology is not an exact science. Whilst most batsmen are at their best from around 27 to, maybe, 32, there are some whose performance curve is displaced to either end. Vinod Kambli was a brilliant player who was all but washed-up by 25, whilst Gooch and Hobbs played with distinction in their early 40s. Ramprakash would be another to whom the balance of physical skill and mental maturity necessary for true international success did not arrive until he was in his very late 30s, by which time people would not select him because his age profile did not fit the standard model. Age - young or old - simply ought not to be a criterion. If you pick the best team, based on form and performance, a blend of youth and experience will naturally emerge. And, where a player's professional earning ability is on the line, it can surely only be a matter of time before subjective and capricious decisions like this are challenged in the courts

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 15, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    I really hope Katich doesn't take the legal route. Maybe dropping him is a bad decision, but those decisions have to be made by selectors not lawyers. If selectors the world over are making their decisions with one eye on the law rather than building a cricket team, it can't be good for the game. I'm sure Katich wouldn't want to remembered as the instigator of the "Katich Ruling", cricket's equivalent of Bosman.

  • Meety on June 15, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    @smudgeon - (I'm also no legal eagle), - I think its one of those situations where an issue could be argued sucessfully from different angles. I think you're are right re: fixed term contracts, but for example in Oz a casual employee can claim unfair dismissal if they are removed from the roster having been on the roster for more than 6mths. This is assuming they haven't committed a sackable offence, (Katich has been pretty close to a model citizen). Once upon a time a casual was by definition only employed for the length of time they were present at a shift, so there is a shift to a relationship beyond what is the nuts & bolts of an employment arrangement. Its a grey area but I think ultimately Jim1207 is right as it would be cost prohibitive UNLESS, the players union got behind him! That would create a can of worms! The problem that the selectors could face is that as far as I am aware, the rationale for selection may be subjective which can be loose in court!

  • NAP73 on June 15, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Employers always have the power - can always make up any reason as required. Anyway, it would be pointless to challenge the farce that is Australian cricket management and governance at present. The NSW quota system doesn't help either... I really can't see things changing and to be honest I have started becoming bored with cricket anyway (too many short money-making tournaments don't help either). Maybe if Bangladesh could become competitive it might make things more interesting, but it doesn't have the fascination of yesteryear (oh, how I miss the old WI and Pakistan teams). BTW, I don't see Australia cracking into the top 2 again in my lifetime... unless there was movement of players between countries (as they chase money)...

  • Jim1207 on June 15, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    I would like to be your student, professor :-) In my opinion, for Katich to set a legal precedent, he has flood-like selflessness which is why he spoke like that in press. But taking legal proceedings against selectors means he would lose all the wealth he earned to get a verdict which would probably not have any impact. It's not in his hands to make a change in selector panel, when the system is not working, one day CA would agree to fire the people who have made a disgusting selection decision now.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 15, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    It's wishful thinking to assume that one can file a case against any Board and they will have the player back in the playing 11. Katich's career is over. Boards don't take kindly even to ex-cricketers getting critical of them from the media box. The Boards are the moneybags and all in the game act on their pleasure. That's the fact of the matter. :P

  • smudgeon on June 15, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    I'm far from an expert on such matters, and while I have the deepest sympathy for Katich's plight, I don't see the legal angle here. His contract hasn't been terminated, it's just not being renewed (big difference). In the circles I work in, a fixed-term contract by nature is temporary, and an employee shouldn't have the expectation of ongoing employment (even if they feel their performance has "earned" it). It's tough, but this sort of thing happens all the time, and while it's not a nice practice, all the power seems rest with the employer. If I'm missing something here (I might be - as I said, not an expert), feel free to fill me in.

  • popcorn on June 15, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    This is a superb article,Rob Steen. A professional cricketer has zero chance of winning a law suit for being dropped. His employers could cite ANY reason - past or future, and get away with it. The only hope he has, is the Selectors WANT Australia to win, so he will retain his place. But that argument won't hold if you are in your thirties.Or if you are dumped like Damien Martyn (SCG 1994, The Ashes 2005), Simon Katich (The Ashes 2005), Martin Love, Brad Hodge, Phil Jaques,Chris Rogers.

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  • popcorn on June 15, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    This is a superb article,Rob Steen. A professional cricketer has zero chance of winning a law suit for being dropped. His employers could cite ANY reason - past or future, and get away with it. The only hope he has, is the Selectors WANT Australia to win, so he will retain his place. But that argument won't hold if you are in your thirties.Or if you are dumped like Damien Martyn (SCG 1994, The Ashes 2005), Simon Katich (The Ashes 2005), Martin Love, Brad Hodge, Phil Jaques,Chris Rogers.

  • smudgeon on June 15, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    I'm far from an expert on such matters, and while I have the deepest sympathy for Katich's plight, I don't see the legal angle here. His contract hasn't been terminated, it's just not being renewed (big difference). In the circles I work in, a fixed-term contract by nature is temporary, and an employee shouldn't have the expectation of ongoing employment (even if they feel their performance has "earned" it). It's tough, but this sort of thing happens all the time, and while it's not a nice practice, all the power seems rest with the employer. If I'm missing something here (I might be - as I said, not an expert), feel free to fill me in.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on June 15, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    It's wishful thinking to assume that one can file a case against any Board and they will have the player back in the playing 11. Katich's career is over. Boards don't take kindly even to ex-cricketers getting critical of them from the media box. The Boards are the moneybags and all in the game act on their pleasure. That's the fact of the matter. :P

  • Jim1207 on June 15, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    I would like to be your student, professor :-) In my opinion, for Katich to set a legal precedent, he has flood-like selflessness which is why he spoke like that in press. But taking legal proceedings against selectors means he would lose all the wealth he earned to get a verdict which would probably not have any impact. It's not in his hands to make a change in selector panel, when the system is not working, one day CA would agree to fire the people who have made a disgusting selection decision now.

  • NAP73 on June 15, 2011, 6:45 GMT

    Employers always have the power - can always make up any reason as required. Anyway, it would be pointless to challenge the farce that is Australian cricket management and governance at present. The NSW quota system doesn't help either... I really can't see things changing and to be honest I have started becoming bored with cricket anyway (too many short money-making tournaments don't help either). Maybe if Bangladesh could become competitive it might make things more interesting, but it doesn't have the fascination of yesteryear (oh, how I miss the old WI and Pakistan teams). BTW, I don't see Australia cracking into the top 2 again in my lifetime... unless there was movement of players between countries (as they chase money)...

  • Meety on June 15, 2011, 6:55 GMT

    @smudgeon - (I'm also no legal eagle), - I think its one of those situations where an issue could be argued sucessfully from different angles. I think you're are right re: fixed term contracts, but for example in Oz a casual employee can claim unfair dismissal if they are removed from the roster having been on the roster for more than 6mths. This is assuming they haven't committed a sackable offence, (Katich has been pretty close to a model citizen). Once upon a time a casual was by definition only employed for the length of time they were present at a shift, so there is a shift to a relationship beyond what is the nuts & bolts of an employment arrangement. Its a grey area but I think ultimately Jim1207 is right as it would be cost prohibitive UNLESS, the players union got behind him! That would create a can of worms! The problem that the selectors could face is that as far as I am aware, the rationale for selection may be subjective which can be loose in court!

  • Truemans_Ghost on June 15, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    I really hope Katich doesn't take the legal route. Maybe dropping him is a bad decision, but those decisions have to be made by selectors not lawyers. If selectors the world over are making their decisions with one eye on the law rather than building a cricket team, it can't be good for the game. I'm sure Katich wouldn't want to remembered as the instigator of the "Katich Ruling", cricket's equivalent of Bosman.

  • on June 15, 2011, 10:00 GMT

    A lot of players suffer from the same thing in a lot of sports. Biology is not an exact science. Whilst most batsmen are at their best from around 27 to, maybe, 32, there are some whose performance curve is displaced to either end. Vinod Kambli was a brilliant player who was all but washed-up by 25, whilst Gooch and Hobbs played with distinction in their early 40s. Ramprakash would be another to whom the balance of physical skill and mental maturity necessary for true international success did not arrive until he was in his very late 30s, by which time people would not select him because his age profile did not fit the standard model. Age - young or old - simply ought not to be a criterion. If you pick the best team, based on form and performance, a blend of youth and experience will naturally emerge. And, where a player's professional earning ability is on the line, it can surely only be a matter of time before subjective and capricious decisions like this are challenged in the courts

  • banter123 on June 15, 2011, 11:11 GMT

    Oh Rob,you are a fantastic writer mate.Technically your wriiting has so little faults and your observations are upto the point.You don't get this type of aweome writers in any sports,one of the reasons i loved Cricinfo

  • InnocentGuy on June 15, 2011, 14:19 GMT

    It's simple, he doesn't have to do anything. Phil and Watto won't nearly be as potent as Katich and Watto. No offense to Phil. Maybe he deserves a chance too. But not at the cost of Katich, and not right now. Just wait for 1 series and the selectors will come running after Katich to get him back into the team. Personally, I think it would be a bad idea for Katich to go the legal route. That said, if this means the end of his career anyway, it makes no difference to him if he wins or loses a legal battle should he decide to file a lawsuit. At least, if he wins, it would set a good precedent for the future. In any case, the motive behind taking up a legal battle isn't to win it and set things right rather to prove a point to the boards that if you mess with the players, they will hit back. Bad publicity for a senseless board is as good as the board losing a legal battle.