Katich Gone is Punter Next

By Staff Writer    |    Cricket   |   Jun 17, 2011 03:56 AM

Following the sacking of Australian test opener Simon Katich, former captain Ricky Ponting admits that senior members of the Australian cricket team have been put on notice.

Katich was sensationally axed from Cricket Australia’s list of contracted players, despite being one of Australia’s most consistent performers in the test arena over the last 24 months.

The decision to axe Katich puts extra pressure on Australia’s two elder statesman, Ponting and Mike Hussey, both of whom are over 35. The scrutiny on Ponting is expected to be intense, especially as Katich has averaged 48 in the previous two years of test cricket, whereas Ponting’s average in that same time is just 38.

“It puts us 36 year olds on notice now, Mike Hussey and myself. It’s going to make us work that little bit harder. I would have liked another old bloke around the group with me. But it means a young guy gets a go and hopefully that guy can stand up and do the job for us,” Ponting said.

Ponting also said that Katich was justified in calling the decision ‘absolutely ridiculous’ in a recent press conference.

“It’s fair to say he didn’t hold back in his press conference and rightly so as well,” said Ponting.

“To be omitted from the contract list was a great shock to him. It was a great shock to me. His performance in the past two or three years has been as good as anybody’s in the world.”

Shane Warne has also weighed into the debate, saying that selectors had taken the easy way out by dropping Katich instead of Ponting. He commented that if Ponting did not undergo a Tendulkar-like renaissance after doing away with the captaincy, his head would be next on the chopping block.

“It’s a bit easier to drop Simon Katich than Ricky Ponting,” Warne said.

“I think what they’re trying to do at the moment with Ricky is to say, let’s take the captaincy off him and let’s see how he goes. I think they’ll give him a bit of a trial but I think if he’s not performing then hopefully he’ll put his hand up and say ‘you know what, I’m going to retire.”

Along with Shane Watson, who has nailed down his place as opening batsmen with some stellar performances, the only specialist openers on the Cricket Australia contract list are Phillip Hughes and Shaun Marsh.

Going on the recent performances of both Hughes and Marsh, Katich has every right to be aggrieved.

Since he burst onto the scene in the South African tour of 2009, Phil Hughes has managed just one score higher than 50 in 13 test innings. His average in that time is a poultry 24.

Shaun Marsh is yet to play a test for Australia, but his first class record is hardly that of someone knocking down the selector’s door. In 60 first class matches Marsh averages just 37. He has made just six first class centuries.

Katich on the other hand averages 53 in first class cricket and has 51 centuries to his name. Katich has also made eight test hundreds since 2008. In fact since 2008, only three men have made more test runs than Katich (Virender Sehwag, Alister Cook and Sachin Tendulkar), who has averaged over 50 in that time period.

Katich was last dropped from the Australian test side after the 2005 ashes. Following his axing he proceeded to break the record for most runs in a Sheffield Shield season.