Katich is the man to lead Australia: Roebuck

Published: Saturday, January 12, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Sydney: Former England cricketer and renowned columnist, Peter Roebuck, has said that Simon Katich is the man to captain the Australian team in the event of any further calamities befalling the national side.

It is not that the selectors lack alternatives or are obliged to choose their leader from within the squad chosen for the Perth Test match. Some of the players will retire soon and the opportunity will arise to chart a different course. Everything depends on the response of the players in the next few weeks, Roebuck writes.

It is not that they need to placate a single cranky reporter. They need to reassure the Australian public that they mean to represent the country not only with skill and dedication, but also with grace. It has been missing. It is not so long ago that a distinguished politician was unceremoniously pushed off a podium.

Katich is a capable cricketer in superb form and a respected leader with a strong outlook. He has captained teams at every level and recently has led New South Wales and Derbyshire with distinction.

Last week one of his county players spoke highly of him as a batsman and leader, praising his straightforward and intelligent approach to the game. Anyone watching the Blues this season will confirm that the team has been playing with renewed spirit and greater imagination than previously.

Hitherto, Katich's international career has been patchy, with an ill-timed illness curtailing his first breakthrough and a succession of bad decisions in the Ashes series in 2005 undermining his second surge. In those days Katich seemed to be trying almost too hard to prove that he belonged.

Nowadays he seems more relaxed and can be relied upon to take any challenges in his stride, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Roebuck, as saying.

Doubtless he has learnt, as all sportsmen eventually learn, that it is futile and sometimes downright dangerous to use sporting performances as a measure of self-esteem.

Lee, Gilly good options: Roebuck writes that Brett Lee could be his right-hand man. Lee has enacted in his own career precisely the sort of transformation Australian supporters seem to seek from their national representatives.

Lee is not merely an outstanding figure in the Australian team. He is respected everywhere. It is a worthy enough aim for every teammate.

Much the same can be said about Adam Gilchrist. Indeed, the current fracas surrounding the team proves that he has been right all along. Exception has been taken to his part in the vociferous appeal against Rahul Dravid.

In hindsight, the point is not that he was misleading the umpire. The point was that the entire Australian team had worked itself into such a lather that judgment had flown out of the window. He misled himself.

Of course, it is possible that a leadership spill might not be needed before the team goes to India in October. It is possible that Ricky Ponting might have taken on board the fundamentals of an admittedly frenzied debate. It is not that supporters want to change captain. They want to be proud of their team.

Australia is no longer a new nation desperate to prove itself on the field. It is a multi-racial land with wonderful resources at its disposal, an outward-looking nation ready to have its own head of state and to take its place in a broader world.

Already Ponting has completed one remarkable transformation in his life and there is no reason to suppose that another is beyond him. Already he has grown from street-smart kid to captain of a national cricket team and therefore a mighty figure in the international game. He has come from the streets of Mowbray to the offices of cricketing power.

Now Ponting faces another defining challenge. He needs to give his team back to the nation. He needs to show Herb Elliott and other elders that their words are respected and have been absorbed. He needs to get an essentially good-natured successor back on track. The 16th victory has been achieved. The time has come to show warmth and generosity, he concludes.


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