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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Opener Katich loses Australia contract

Opener Katich loses Australia contract

Last updated on: June 07, 2011 14:02 IST

Australian opener Simon Katich's Test career looked over on Tuesday after he was left off the list of 25 players awarded central contracts for next season by Cricket Australia.

New blood was injected into the group of players who are expected to be the core of the Australian Test, one-day and Twenty20 international sides for the next 12 months with the inclusion of uncapped 18-year-old pace bowler Patrick Cummins.

The 35-year-old Katich, who averaged 45.03 runs in 56 Test matches after his debut in 2001, was joined on the scrapheap by 31-year-old middle order batsman Marcus North, who was dropped after his 21st Test during the Ashes debacle.

Simon KatichLeft-hander Katich made what now looks like being his final appearance for his country in the humbling loss to England in Adelaide in December, when he injured his Achilles tendon.

"Simon has been a fantastic player for Australia and a key and successful member of the Test team in recent years," chief selector Andrew Hilditch said.

"However, amongst other matters, (we) felt it was the right time now to start blooding our next opening partnership in preparation for the Ashes two years from now."

Australia play Test series in Sri Lanka and South Africa this year before hosting New Zealand and India in the southern hemisphere summer.

Cummins was included alongside his fellow-quick James Pattinson, the 21-year-old who made his international debut on Australia's recent tour of Bangladesh.

"(We have) added two exciting young fast bowling talents to the list in James Pattinson and Patrick Cummins," Hilditch added.

"James has tasted international cricket and we see him as a young man of immense talent who is made of the right stuff to succeed at the higher level.

"Patrick Cummins is an exceptional talent who has impressed with his opportunities to date for New South Wales and it will be very exciting to watch his progress."

Erratic pace bowling was one of the factors blamed for Australia losing an Ashes series on home soil for the first time in 24 years.

Despite that humiliation, selectors decided not to clear out the old guard wholesale and former captain Ricky Ponting and batsman Mike Hussey, both 36, retained their contracts.

"We are confident these young players, in combination with our established senior players, will play a key role in ensuring Australian cricket returns to its rightful position as a leader in world cricket over the coming years," Hilditch concluded.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told reporters in Sydney that the inquiry into what went wrong in the Ashes series is ongoing.

"Things are probably not going to come together for a little while yet and I don't want to be stuck by giving a timeline to that.

"It's an in-depth process and an important process and the integrity of that needs to be complete," he said.

Sutherland also announced that the memorandum of understanding with the players' union had been extended for a year, allowing the contracts to be awarded.

Contracted players: Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Mike Hussey, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

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