Former Australian batsman Mark Waugh has remarked that the recently-retired Australian opener Simon Katich should be remembered as one of Australia’s best batsmen.
The 36 year old Katich called a day on his first class career, having played his last Test at Adelaide in the 2010/11 Ashes.
Katich was indeed in great touch throughout the 2009-10 season, first averaging a decent 43 in the 2009 Ashes and then putting a high price on his wicket against Pakistan and the West Indies at home, where he scored a century and four 80-plus scores in nine innings.
Later in New Zealand, he averaged 91 in two Tests and 47 against Pakistan in England before a slight stutter in form in India. Following that he got injured and eventually dropped and forgotten after two tests in the 2010-11 Ashes. He was not given a fresh contract in spite of being one of the most consistent batsmen over the past two years.
Katich hinted at new captain Michael Clarke’s hand in his ouster from the team, although it is generally accepted that the Australian selectors were looking at the future.
It would not be wrong to say that Katich had much more to offer even beyond the 2010/11 Ashes. After he was axed, Phillip Hughes disappointed at the top while Shaun Marsh, after a successful start in Sri Lanka, failed miserably at home against India.
For now, Australia have settled on David Warner and Ed Cowan as the opening duo and their reasonably good form has indicated that Katich is certainly not being missed.
Katich averaged a healthy 45 in 56 Tests and was seen as a dependable bet at the top of the order following the retirements of Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden. a batsman in the Shivnarine Chanderpaul mould, he amassed almost 20000 runs at an average of 53 in first-class cricket.
As Waugh pointed out, he could be certainly counted among the best, if not among the greatest. He stood up and delivered when it mattered the most, and had it not been for the success of Hayden and Langer in Australia’s heydays in the 2000’s, would have probably been more accomplished than his statistics say.
Katich’s 2011 claim of politics resulting in his ouster might not be surprising after all. A few months back, Jason Gillespie had hinted that his being an Aborigine might have resulted in his axing from the Test team.
For the record, Gillespie had scored an eye-popping 201* as a nightwatchman against Bangladesh in what strangely turned out to be his last international for Australia.