Sydney: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting says he is shocked Cricket Australia has not included opener Simon Katich among its list of contracted players, while former teammate Shane Warne says Ponting was lucky to get a contract.
In his first public statement on the issue, Ponting said he agreed with Katich's decision to call a press conference at which he labeled the decision "absolutely ridiculous." Speaking on the Nine Network's AFL Footy Show late on Thursday, Ponting said he felt Katich's reaction was warranted.
He said Katich "didn't hold back in his press conference and rightly so as well. To be omitted from the contract list was a great shock to him. It was a shock to me."
Ponting said he was shocked that Katich had been ditched despite being one of Australia's best-performing batsmen.
Asked if his comments were meant as criticism of the Australian selectors, Ponting said "you can make of that whatever you like."
The omission of the veteran Katich was seen as a move to rejuvenate the Australian team, although Ponting and Michael Hussey — both aged 36 — have been retained. Michael Clarke will lead Australia on its test tour to Sri Lanka in August while 22-year-old Phil Hughes is likely to open the batting in Katich's place.
"It means a young guy gets a go and hopefully that guy can stand up and do the job for us," Ponting said. "It puts us 36 year-olds on notice now, Mike Hussey and myself. It's going to make us work that little bit harder."
Warne said the Australian selectors had taken the "easy option" by dropping Katich, avoiding a potentially more content_cnious examination of Ponting's recent form.
"Simon Katich is an easy guy to drop, if that makes sense," Warne said on Thursday while commentating on the third Test between England and Sri Lanka at Southampton.
Katich has averaged 50 runs as an opening batsman and 45 from his last 14 innings. Ponting's recent form has been much less convincing and Warne said the decision on Katich put the former captain under notice.
"I think what they are trying to do with Ricky at the moment is say 'well let's take the captaincy off him and see how it goes,'" Warne said. "I think they will give him a bit of a trial but hopefully if he is not performing he will put his hand up and say 'I will retire.'
"It's one of those tough situations where if he's not performing it's pretty hard for a selector to come up and say 'Ricky, don't you think it is time to retire, we are going to drop you.'"