Pakistan v Australia 2010 July 17, 2010

Katich revels in his second coming


It was fitting that Simon Katich was named Australia's Player of the Match in their 150-run win over Pakistan at Lord's. He is the team's reigning Test Player of the Year, he has scored more runs than any other player in Test cricket over the past two years, and there hasn't been a Test since Headingley last August in which he has failed to post at least a half-century.

But despite his remarkable consistency, match honours have tended to elude Katich. Only twice in his career has he been named Player of the Match; once in Bridgetown in June 2008, in the third match of his comeback to the Test side, and at Lord's this week for his innings of 80 and 83. This time he even had to share the award with Salman Butt.

Not that such trinkets mean much to Katich. He's spent long enough out of the Test team over the past decade to appreciate his position. When he was recalled at the age of 32 on the tour of the Caribbean two years ago and turned into a makeshift opener due to an injury to Matthew Hayden, Katich knew that he had to grab every opportunity and treat each game as if it would be his last.

"That's been a big part of my philosophy since I got back in," Katich said after the Lord's win. "I knew it was going to be tough to get back in at my age. I've just tried to really enjoy it because it probably wasn't expected. From that point of view I haven't put too much pressure on myself and I've just tried to enjoy each Test match and enjoy winning Test matches.

"That's part of our tradition of playing in the baggy green is to win Test matches. I've been through both eras of Australian cricket, where we were so dominant for so long and now the goal is to get us back up to No. 1. Hopefully we're on our way to doing that."

The cricket writer Ray Robinson once wrote of Bill Lawry that if he wasn't married to his wicket, they were at least going steady. Katich has been in a stable relationship with his for the past two years. His shuffle from leg to off is not the sort of move young players are taught, but in doing so he protects his stumps - he has been bowled only four times from 51 innings since his comeback.

He eschews the rule of playing in the 'V' and his wagon wheel at Lord's reveals as much. In his second-innings 83, he scored not a single run straight back past the bowler. Instead, he thrived on flicks through midwicket, cover drives, edgy cuts and singles squirted behind square leg. He'd be a hopeless baseball player; every shot would end up in foul territory.

But his technique punishes bowlers who aim too straight and in swinging conditions, like the teams were confronted with at Lord's, that can be a common error. There was no century for Katich, but against a Pakistan attack that found it easy to curl the ball in the air, his match tally was the difference for Australia.

"Day one was probably as trying a conditions as any of us have faced in Test cricket for a while," the captain Ricky Ponting said. "The fact the game is stop-start is never easy for batsman, the ball swung all of our innings and probably most of their innings as well. So the return we got out of Simon in both innings was fantastic."

And finally, Katich was rewarded for his efforts.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hari on July 19, 2010, 4:27 GMT

    It is a matter of coincidence that the most consistant batsman in the world today and left handed openers. Katich, Gambhir, Strauss, Butt, etc. Between them they have amassed close to 10000 runs in the past 2 years. More important whenever they did well their teams wons and vice versa. Katich, unlike the other 3 is not an entertaining batsman. Understandably so as he is a make-shift. However, he has inherited the virtues of a dependable opener and has been the mainstay for the Aussies when most of their batsman were struggling or have been highly inconsistant. Landmarks like cneturies are just numbers. Instead of One century in the first and a duck in the second it is much better to have Two 80s in both the innings. Solidity comes from consistancy and Katich has exhibited the same. Kudos Katich, Kudos openers, Kudos left handers. Hari Ravi

  • Nathan on July 19, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    Katich is a real old style opener and I enjoy seeing him do well, although turning one or two more 70s and 80s into a ton would be nice. In these days of crash and bash, it's great to see someone still put a high price on their wicket. @popcorn, I hear what you're saying but I think you're a bit harsh on Hughes. He and Katich are obviously at opposite ends of the spectrum, and Hughes is not the typical opener, but it takes all types. I think having guys like Katich in the side allows the selectors to pick less reliable guys like Hughes, and while Hughes will never have the consistency of a Katich type, Hughes does have the capacity to turn a game in a session or even an hour.

  • Nick on July 18, 2010, 18:23 GMT

    Katich is the best batsman in the Oz team right now.Worst: Ricky Ponting

  • Rajaram on July 18, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    Simon Katich,like Justin Langer before him, brings stability to the Australian batting line-up.He has scored a 50 in each of his last 10 Test appearences.He has reinvented himself from a no.6 batsman to an automatic selection as an opener. I wish Phil Hughes learns what it means to GRAFT, like Simon Katich or Justin Langer. Phil Hughes is undependable. I would rather have Chris Rogers ahead of Phil Hughes.He should get some advice from the great Greg Chappell at the COE in Brisbane.

  • Dummy4 on July 18, 2010, 1:44 GMT

    @sixandout. bloody hell he was being sarcastic

  • ranganathan on July 18, 2010, 1:06 GMT

    He is a gritty player who revels in difficult conditions and resembles the another unorthodox and unattractive consistent player Shiv narayan chanderpaul of West indies.Good come back from extinction. He alone changed the result in the last match

  • Hamish on July 17, 2010, 23:59 GMT

    I find it great that Aus had to come crawling back to Katich. He represents a bit of the old school, which is why it is so funny that he is the keystone of Australia's batting arch. So recently it was Australia at the forefront of the test revolution: ramping up scoring rates and beating down pitches. Now they have a guy who needs neither, and his team mates - most reared on this new philosophy - are put to shame. One only need look at Clarke for a perfect example of a player trapped in the crevice between these two eras. 'Know who you are' describes Katich's playstyle very well indeed, and others could benefit from trying it.

  • Glenn on July 17, 2010, 19:45 GMT

    Sorry mate, that's ridiculous. Anyway, who plays sport just for close results? If that's all you care about, you're going to lose more than win.

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2010, 19:03 GMT

    The philosophy - In the end it's the number of runs that counts, How they were scored is always forgotten - seems to be working well for Katich. He has proved that cricket is more of a mind game these days. Every teams needs a player or two in a test side specially who can anchor the innings when the conditions are tough. And when the going becomes tougher; the tougher gets going!

    Well Done Katich. I wish you get more MOM awards in future.

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2010, 18:52 GMT

    @ Neil - only if you take away Mr butts 2 excellent innings as well. lol - Well played to both of them! :)

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