Injured Katich ruled out of series
Simon Katich doesn't think he has played his last Test despite a painful Achilles tear ruling him out of the rest of the Ashes series. The timing of the injury is extremely unfortunate for Katich, who is 35 and coming towards the end of his career.
He hopes to start running again in a month, giving his replacement three Tests to impress before the next five-day series against Bangladesh following the World Cup. "There are still a lot of factors, but I will do everything I can to try to play Test cricket again," Katich said. "Obviously my age will be a factor, but I haven't looked at it like that in the last few years because the last two and a half years of my career have been my best."
Katich, who has appeared in 56 Tests, refused to accept any on-field help during the match because he didn't want any special treatment after coming into the game with the problem. The complaint surfaced in Brisbane but he insisted he was fit for the second match. He said it worsened while fielding for two days during England's 5 for 620 declared.
He also dismissed suggestions he had avoided using a runner because the innings could have been his final one in a Test. "It had nothing to do with it," he said. "I knew I had to be out there. I don't like the rule of guys going off the field, I just think you're there to play the game and that's always been one of my things, whether you're injured or not, you're out there."
Katich's withdrawal made it 1-1 in the series stakes after England's Stuart Broad was forced out of the campaign on the same day with a torn stomach muscle. Katich hobbled to 43 in the second innings on Monday before scans showed he had a tear in one of the tendons in his heel.
It is a similar problem to the one suffered by Matthew Hayden in 2008, which gave Katich his chance to restart his Test career following a record-breaking domestic run spree. "Three years ago I was told I wasn't going to play again," Katich said. "All I know is that I'll do everything I can to make sure I can get it right. I'm confident I will."
He will have blood injections in his heel on Wednesday and will then have to wait for the healing to begin. "From there it's a matter of resting it and see how it settles down in the next couple of weeks," he said. He hasn't given up hope of playing in the Sydney Test but it would take a miracle for him to take part.
"I'm very disappointed, only two games into the series, to not be able to have a chance to try to turn things around with the team," he said. "It will be hard not being a part of it."
The injury is also a problem because it robs Australia of a dependable senior batsman, and a man who has built regular sturdy platforms with Shane Watson. The team is in crisis after being out-played in the opening two Tests and they now have to find a new opener for the third game in Perth from December 16. New South Wales' Phillip Hughes is the favourite to come in while Usman Khawaja is also a contender.
"[Katich is] a big loss for us, no doubt," Ricky Ponting said. "He's been one of the leading openers in international cricket since he forced his way back into the team. His record would stack up against most other opening batsmen in the world. He's an experienced player, he's a great character to have around your team and he's an uncompromising sort of guy."
Katich's team-mates were in awe of his pain threshold and his stubbornness as he refused help during the game. If it was his last sighting in the middle of a Test, he has left the arena as one of the country's toughest modern men.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo