December 14, 2011 by dixwah
Every day I carpool to and from work with a female colleague, who despite having little to no interest in sport, politely allows me to listen to sports talkback on our bi-daily commute.
I surprisingly discovered she was actually listening when one day half way through a trip home she said, “Will these people ever get over Des Hasler?”
It seems they have. But getting over Simon Katich remains another issue.
After a morning’s cricket bashing on the wireless, on our afternoon walk to the car my colleague was similarly prophetic.
“There’ll be three things we’re guaranteed to hear on the way home.”
“Hughes should never, ever play for Australia again, Clarke is the worst captain in the history of cricket and that Simon Katich should never have been dropped and it’s a disgrace and he’s the tough man Australia need and he should be captain and who is this little upstart to tell him when the team song should be sung and …”
The first phone call ticked off all three issues.
But this is not a critique of talkback radio callers (saving that for my thesis), rather an attempt to state the facts about Simon Katich.
Simon Katich was rightfully dropped and his current form does not warrant a return to the Test team.
Katich was a very good test batsman. More than that, he fought his way back after being stamped in 2005, when a period of 14 digs without a century and three runs in his last four innings sent him back to the Pura Cup.
A couple of years playing to empty stadiums certainly didn’t hurt Katich’s game. Two big seasons that were limited due to injury were solidified by an extraordinary 1506 run output (average 94.12) in 2007/8, the best in the 115-year history of the competition.
He deserved his call-up for the West Indies tour in 2008 and was a regular performer for Australia over the next twelve months.
A slump in 2010 saw him dropped from the Test side and removed from the Cricket Australia’s 25 player contracted list.
Since the middle of 2009, Katich’s position has become dispensible. The Australian team was ailing and relying on big scores from Katich and his opening partner (normally Shane Watson) to get them in front.
After scoring 122 in the first innings of the first Ashes Test in 2009, Katich would score just two more centuries in another 32 Test innings.
He hadn’t scored a hundred in his last twelve innings before injury ended his home Ashes campaign last year.
In an ageing side, Katich was gone.
Whether it’s Katich’s public outbursts about selection policy or his perceived dislike of the current Australian captain that endears him to the public I’m not sure.
The fact is that Katich speaking out against his employer was unprofessional, and short-sighted. Turning on your employer, and specifically the people within the organisation whose favour you rely on for promotion, rarely ends well.
The left-hander had been dropped before and responded unequivocally. While you may argue his reaction this year was also unequivocal, it helped ensure he was further down the pecking order if he wanted to resume his Test career.
Katich could have responded with runs. He knows the rules, he made it back before. Instead, more than halfway through the Shield season, he is the 15th highest runscorer in the competition. His average is under 40.
Almost 200 runs ahead of Katich is Queensland’s Peter Forrest, who ironically moved from the Blues because the returns of Katich and other Test players meant he couldn’t get a full-time gig.
Is the reaction to Katich’s dismissal amplified by the fact that the two elder statesmen who remain haven’t set the world on fire since the rugged opener was banished?
Regardless, it’s Katich himself who has taken his eyes off the ball.