Blues sign Katich for five years

Simon Katich will almost certainly finish his career with New South Wales after signing a new five-year deal that will keep him in Sydney until he is nearly 37. The Blues have announced their squad for 2007-08, which also includes senior deals for the batsmen Ben Rohrer and Peter Forrest.

Western Australia had expressed a strong interest in luring Katich back to Perth after he lost his Cricket Australia contract in May. However, the five-year agreement means Katich, who will be 32 when the 2007-08 summer begins, is tied to the Blues until 2011-12 and is unlikely ever to play for another state.

Cricket New South Wales chief executive Dave Gilbert said the Blues were thrilled to retain their captain. "We're delighted that Simon will stay in New South Wales," Gilbert said. "He had other offers but his retention was a top priority for us. We're expecting a big season from him this summer."

Katich is currently on county duty with Derbyshire, where he is averaging 93.57 from his six first-class matches this season. His manager Robert Joske said Katich was looking forward to repaying the Blues for their commitment. "It's very pleasing to sign a long-term contract that will provide stability for both Simon and New South Wales into the future," Joske said.

Rohrer, 26, the left-hand batsman who made 163 on his Pura Cup debut against Tasmania in March and went on to play in the final, was rewarded with a full contract. Forrest, 21, also played his first two first-class games in March and made 61 at No. 3 in the same match where Rohrer reached triple-figures. Forrest, a right-hand batsman, was promoted after three seasons on the rookie list.

Phillip Hughes, 18, an opening batsman for Western Suburbs, has earned a rookie deal, as has Steven Smith, also 18, a right-hand batsman with the Sutherland club. Hughes was impressive for the Australia Under-19 team in the recent one-day series against Pakistan Under-19, when he made 387 runs at 96.75 from five matches.

John Hastings, the allrounder who was on a rookie contract last year, has moved to Victoria. Jason Krejza, who was on the 2006 list, transferred to Tasmania mid-season. Murray Creed, Tim Lang, James Packman and Grant Roden, all of whom had full contracts last season, were omitted.

Squad Aaron Bird, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Bracken, (Cricket Australia contract), Mark Cameron, Beau Casson, Stuart Clark (CA), Michael Clarke (CA), Ed Cowan, Scott Coyte, Peter Forrest, Brad Haddin (CA), Nathan Hauritz, Moises Henriques, Phil Jaques (CA), Simon Katich, Grant Lambert, Brett Lee (CA), Stuart MacGill (CA), Greg Mail, Matthew Nicholson, Aaron O'Brien, Ben Rohrer, Craig Simmons, Daniel Smith, Dominic Thornely.

Rookies Tom Cooper, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Steve O'Keefe, Martin Paskal, Steven Smith, David Warner.