Katich fit for third Test
Simon Katich says he is a certain starter for the third Test against West Indies, which starts in Barbados on Thursday, after he took a nasty blow to the ribs while making a century in the second Test in Antigua. Katich batted on following the incident but he took little part in Australia's fielding efforts and did not bat in the second innings.
"[Daren] Powell got me when I was on 30-odd, I let one hit me flush in the ribs," Katich told AAP. "It has probably happened 100 times throughout my career, it's never been a drama. This one got me in the wrong spot. It's just probably from the bruising and the swelling. It has just probably got me towards the bottom, so whether they are weak I don't know.
"I was struggling to run between wickets and I felt a little bit short of breath. I spat a little bit of blood out at tea time. It's happened before. Once before, I got hit at short leg a couple of years ago and about a week later I was fine. I'll be fine for the third Test. Thankfully there's no breaks or anything like that. It's just a discomfort thing from being so bruised and swollen."
Katich may also have to take on some bowling responsibilities after the unexpected retirement of Stuart MacGill. A useful left-arm wrist-spinner for Australia in the past - he upstaged Brad Hogg in a Test at the SCG in 2003-04, when he grabbed 6 for 65 against Zimbabwe - Katich has not bowled much since 2005 after suffering a knuckle injury to his bowling hand and taking over the captaincy of New South Wales. However, Katich showed his skills are still intact, picking up match figures of 6 for 66 in the tour game against Jamaica Select XI last month.
"Ricky threw me the ball in the tour match, and they came out okay," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It was nice to get that opportunity. I always bowl in the nets so I will keep practising and see what happens.
"I have found myself bowling more often when I'm not captain. When I was playing club cricket in Sydney this year, I was bowling quite a bit, [but] I didn't bowl at all for the Blues, basically because we had so many other options and I don't like to bowl myself as captain because I know we've got other guys that can do the job."
If he is asked to bowl in Barbados, he hopes it will be in tandem with his fellow chinaman bowler Beau Casson, who could make his Test debut but is still not guaranteed to play. Katich believes Casson, who he captains at New South Wales, is ready for the challenge despite not yet playing a match on the Caribbean tour.
"We talk a lot about [bowling] because we are basically standing in the same position in the nets all the time," Katich said. "Obviously, as captain, I speak to him a lot about it, with fields and plans and things like that. He has definitely improved. I know he hasn't played in the last few weeks but just having faced him in the nets, it's as good as I've seen him bowl."
Regardless of whether Casson plays, Katich's main job will be with the bat and his 113 in Antigua has given Australia some top-order confidence without Matthew Hayden. Katich's opening partner Phil Jaques also found form in the second innings and made 76, his first Test score of any note without Hayden by his side.
"I think having [Hayden] there at the other end, he gets you going because of the shots he plays and the dominant body language he has, it gets you going as a player," Jaques said. "In the second innings, I tried to be dominant myself and I think it sort of proved the way to go. Have a bit more intent and playing a few more shots, look to score rather than just look to survive. I think that was different than the first couple of games."