New South Wales has landed a major recruiting coup overnight with confirmation that Simon Katich will be leaving his native Western Australia to join the Blues next season.
Katich, 26, has closed two weeks of negotiations with New South Wales officials by opting to sign a one-year contract with his new team. His decision was understood to have been influenced significantly by the opportunity to join his girlfriend, who is based in Sydney.
Katich endured arguably the most frustrating first-class season of his career in 2001-02, and ultimately surrendered his Australian Cricket Board contract after amassing 585 runs in total at the average of 34.41. A family illness; internal divisions within Western Australian cricket; and a dissent hearing after an incident in a match in Hobart also made for an unhappy summer.
But the left hander has still been one of Australian interstate cricket's most prolific scorers over recent years, and his decision to shift east will add further steel to a batting line-up that is likely to be the envy of other states next summer.
Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Michael Slater, Katich and fellow left-hander Michael Bevan are all expected to make a large number of appearances, and head a powerful list of talent.
"Simon is exactly the sort of player we want in the Blues squad," said New South Wales coach Steve Rixon in a short statement today.
"His attitude and professionalism in discussing a move from Perth to Sydney has been extremely impressive, and I look forward to him making a strong contribution (next) summer."
Katich was Western Australia's captain in six matches last season, and he has appeared in 50 first-class games in total for the Warriors. His talents have also seen him represent English county team Durham, and he has played one Test and a single one-day international for Australia.
His only first-class century in 2001-02 was made at the Sydney Cricket Ground.