Katich rejoices on reaching his century

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2008, 14:56 [IST]
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St John's: Simon Katich marked his return to the Australia Test side with his third Test hundred on the opening day of the second Test against West Indies on Friday which he has dubbed as "special".

The 32-year-old Katich was undefeated on 113 to lead Australia to 259 for three when bad light stopped play eight overs short of the daily quota as the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground celebrated becoming the 11th venue to host Tests in the Caribbean and the 98th in the World.

Katich was recalled to the Test side for the tour of the Caribbean, after he spent over two years on the sidelines and lost his central contract with Cricket Australia.

He was fortunate to have retained his place in the side for this Test though, after he scored 12 and one in the opening Test at Kingston.

Katich and fellow left-hander Phil Jaques failed to give Australia the kind of starts to which they have become accustomed, as the two shared partnerships of 18 and five.

But long-standing left-handed opener Matthew Hayden failed to fully recover from a damaged right Achilles tendon ahead of the Test, and has returned home to seek further treatment.

"This hundred felt 'special' because it has obviously been a long time in coming," Katich told reporters.

"I think as a Test batsman that's what it's all about - it's to try and score hundreds and that's what I didn't do the first time around," added Katich, whose previous hundreds against India four years ago and New Zealand the following year came in a spell of 24 Tests spanning eight years.

"I probably got too many starts and didn't go on with it and convert, but that's sort of been in the back of my mind in the last few years when I was playing first-class cricket, to try and convert and go big and hopefully that mindset will continue."

The last Australia first-class season was a happy hunting ground for Katich.

He broke the record for most runs in a season, amassing 1,506 runs at an average of 94.12, captained New South Wales to the first-class title, and registered his highest score, an epic 306 against Queensland, which was the highest first-class score at the Sydney Cricket Ground since Don Bradman made 452 in 1929-30.

"I felt like I was in good form going into the first Test and unfortunately missed out in both innings so it was nice to kind of get out there and get the job done," Katich said.

"In the first innings (in Jamaica), I felt like I blew a good opportunity because I felt like I was a bit too revved up and paid the price on what was a pretty good pitch on the first day.

"That's sometimes the problem as a batsman, you can play with too much intent and you can pay the price, but here I felt a bit more relaxed and content to just occupy the crease."

Katich whose previous Tests prior to this series were against the same opponents three years ago on home soil, felt this was his last chance to prove himself.

"I guess you never give up hope once you've had a taste of it, but at times you're always thinking at the back of your mind wondering whether that opportunity may come again, particularly as the years were starting to tick over," he said.

"I sort of thought to myself, whatever's left I just wanted to enjoy it. I think once you get to 30 a lot of people ask you what are you going to do when you finish playing, and it was starting to dawn on me that it wasn't that far away.

"That's what changed my mindset...I thought, well if I've only got a few years left I'm going to enjoy it, just take it as it comes, whether I played club, county, or international cricket."

Katich's batting has also caught the eye of Australia captain Ricky Ponting with whom he shared 136 for the second wicket to build a platform for the visitors.

"It's terrific for him," Ponting said. "He has been in as good a form as anyone in the world, don't worry about anyone in Australia.

"To score that amount of runs (in the Australia first-class season) obviously says he is doing a lot of things very well. He didn't miss the middle of the bat too often in this innings, and with his scoring chart, everything was just straight back down the ground.

"It's an amazing turnaround and I'm really happy for him, he is a great character to have around the team and he is playing beautifully."

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