Axe may fall on Katich despite back-to-back hundreds

June 17th, 2008 - 7:31 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 16 (IANS) Australia’s batting strength is such that Simon Katich may have to make way for Matthew Hayden despite scoring back-to-back centuries in the series against West Indies. Katich says he understands the situationand he has no ill-feeling towards the selectors. If Katich is dropped, he will become the first Australian cricketer in more than a century to be left out after two successive Test centuries. Percy McDonnell is believed to be the only batsman to be demoted immediately after posting 100s in consecutive Tests, and that was after a contract dispute in 1884.

It is not the first time that Katich faces this situation. He was controversially dropped immediately after scoring a maiden Test century, against India in 2004, to accommodate debutant Andrew Symonds.

“I was just grateful to be on the tour as an extra batsman, and the opportunity to play has been great because I felt that I was ready to play well given my form in the last couple of years,” Katich was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Katich scored his best Test score, an undefeated 148, in the second innings in the Barbados Test against West Indies, and formed part of a 223-run stand with Phil Jaques — the second-highest second innings opening stand by an Australian pair.

More importantly, the duo has laid to rest fears of any fissures in Australian batting ranks following the retirement of Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist.

“Obviously, I know that when Matt (Hayden) is back in the team, he and Jaquesy have done a great job, so I will just have to bide my time, but it is nice to be playing well rather than struggling and possibly being on the outer.”

Katich was called as a replacement for Hayden, who is recovering from an Achilles injury. With the selectors eager to promote Jaques as a long-term opening option, Katich appears the man most likely to be jettisoned from the starting XI for Australia’s next international assignment in Bangalore.

Jaques acknowledged as much when, asked about the importance of his own 108, and suggested they were now competing for the same job.

“Definitely, especially when you’ve got a guy like Simon breathing down your neck,” Jaques said. “He’s knocking the door down and playing some really good cricket.

“We all know Matthew Hayden is coming back into the team at some point. We’ve both been trying to make every post a winner and make as many runs as possible.”

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