Natural Selection

Simon Katich isn't the first player to find his career slipping away in the aftermath of an injury, or at the age of thirty-five, and he won't be the last. But what made the formal acknowledgement that his time in the Australian team was up so much more interesting was the manner in which he gave vent to his feelings in a way which so many players never give themselves the satisfaction of doing.

Katich laid things on the line in a measured, cutting way. Full of barbs, but never emotional, the feeling was that he was only saying what many another player was thinking. Stuart Clark, for one, and surely Nathan Hauritz too.

Selecting cricket teams at international level is a difficult and thankless job. Everyone thinks that they can do it better than you and you will rarely be congratulated when you get things right, only castigated when you get them wrong.

England's slightly uneasy performance at Lord's - frequently erratic bowling and a conservative declaration - showed that they're far from the finished article, but, as the current jargon goes, they're in a much 'better place' than Australia. One of the main reasons for that is consistent, loyal selection.

Whatever the merits of the dropping of Katich, Australia's selectors have been struggling for a while now. As I wrote in late December, just after the Melbourne Test:

'There are deluded people who think that Steve Smith is a Test match number six batsman, or that Ryan Harris is a number eight, or that Xavier Doherty and Michael Beer are better cricketers than Nathan Hauritz. This was a team which used to set the standards for the whole world. At times these past few weeks they have been a shambles'.

Katich has gone, but Hussey and Ponting, both older, fight on. With little in the way of really outstanding talent coming through, Australia have much to do to get anywhere near their previous pre-eminence.

We, and Simon Katich, will be watching them closely over the next year.

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