Cardiff (Wales), July 7 (ANI): For Australian opener Simon Katich, participating in an Ashes tour is all about fighting back.
Revealing that captain Ricky Ponting and coach Tim Nielsen have introduced a ritual within the Australian team, in which each player is asked to tell his teammates why the Ashes is special, Katich recalls that he has been telling his mates of a past that has left deep scars, but one that has helped him to become a more resilient character.
In 2001, he made 15 on debut, filling in when Steve Waugh tore a calf muscle, and did not play again for more than two years.
In 2005, reverse swing and poor umpiring decisions, one of which caused an explosion of rage at Trent Bridge, conquered him and he was again banished from the Test scene. He thought it was for good.
“That’s what I spoke about. “I didn’t think I was going to be here so, just to be here, for me, I’m very proud of that, to be able to fight back from when I was out of the team for two or three years. Most people would have thought I was no chance of getting back on this tour so I want to make the most of it. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful for the opportunity last time but, I think this time, with a younger group, I’m really looking forward to getting us off to some good starts and helping us out at the top of the order,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Katich, as saying.
Katich is one of only four Australians with Test experience in England, along with Ponting, Michael Clarke and Brett Lee.
He is hardened by the battle of previous tours but returns to England in a different role, as a different cricketer.
Much like Justin Langer, who transformed himself from a No.3 batsman into one of the world’s toughest openers after Michael Slater was dropped at the end of the 2001 Ashes, Katich has reinvented himself as the senior opening batsman and arguably the backbone of Australia’s batting.
A No.3 batsman for most of his first-class career, Katich was handed a chance to revive his international career when Matthew Hayden hurt his Achilles before last year’s tour of the West Indies, and consolidated in India when Phil Jaques succumbed to a serious back injury.
In his 15 Tests since coming back into the team, the 34-year-old has plundered 1389 runs at 53.42 – a big improvement on the 1260 runs from his previous 23 matches – and struck a sweet chemistry with Hayden’s audacious young successor, Phillip Hughes.
When he walks out to bat with Hughes in Cardiff on Wednesday, Katich will be a far more relaxed character than he was when he came against the old, swinging ball in the middle order four years ago, perhaps because for the first time in a career of unkind selection cuts he can feel secure in his position.
Katich has not yet experienced Ashes redemption.
“It’s an Ashes tour, my third, and, given what happened last time, it’s nice to be back,” he said.
“For me it’s about enjoying the contest, that’s what this Ashes is all about. I enjoyed the contest last time, didn’t perform as well as I would like, this time I will enjoy it again and just do what I have done in the last 12 months. I’ve treated every Test like a bonus. I feel really relaxed about it, because I know I’ve done the work and I’m playing as well as I’ve played in the past. I want to enjoy being out there … And get one up on England,” he added. (ANI)