West Indies v Australia, 2nd Test, Antigua May 30, 2008

Ponting backs Katich as opener

Cricinfo staff

Australia are hoping Simon Katich can make a greater contribution in the second Test after struggling in Jamaica © Getty Images

Simon Katich has won the backing of the captain Ricky Ponting and one of the selectors, David Boon, as he aims to settle into the Test opening role after Matthew Hayden was forced home from the Caribbean due to injury. When Hayden missed the first Test in Kingston because of his achilles tendon problem, Katich opened but he failed to have much impact, scoring 12 and 1.

The Sabina Park match was Katich's first Test following two and a half years out of the team and an extended run in Hayden's spot might allow him to calm his nerves. Ponting said Katich deserved another opportunity after he started well in the first innings against West Indies only to flash at a wide one outside off stump and drive a catch to gully.

"He seemed to get a bit carried away in the first innings of the first Test," Ponting wrote in the Australian. "He was back in the Test team, sighting the ball well and he struck a few boundaries early and he just went for one that he should have left alone.

"I had a good chat with him yesterday and he said he felt as good as ever at the crease in the second innings but he got one that surprised him a little with a bit of pace and a bit of inswing. He's riding an incredible wave of confidence. He's seeing the ball well and hitting it well and I am sure we will see him make some runs in the next game."

Katich's recall came after a stunning 2007-08 domestic campaign in which he broke the record for most runs in a Pura Cup season. Although he generally bats at No. 3 for New South Wales he has opened for them on occasions. Justin Langer became a successful Test opener after jumping from No. 3 and Boon, who did the same, believes Katich can do a good job replacing Hayden.

"I wouldn't say it's like versus like, but if you bat in the top three you should be able to open if required," Boon told the paper. "It's easier for an opener to go back down the order than it is for someone to go up and open, but if you bat in the top three, as long as you get it in your brain that you want to do it, it's fine."

Katich also knows that he could be auditioning for an eventual full-time opening role after Chris Rogers, who made a one-off appearance against India at the WACA in January, lost his Cricket Australia contract. Hayden, 36, wants to play until at least next year's Ashes tour, providing his fitness holds out.