Katich versus Clarke: the next chapter
Michael Clarke denies the David Warner issue was dealt with inconsistently (AFP : Torsten Blackwood)
With global cricketing attention focused on how three Pakistani spot-fixers are dealt with in a court in England, a far less significant but no less interesting cricketing drama has been receiving plenty of interest within Australia.
The next instalment of “Katich versus Clarke” has been playing out following Simon Katich’s remarks recently that he believes Australian captain Michael Clarke had an input into Cricket Australia’s decision not to offer him a new contract despite his form suggesting he deserved one.
In making these comments, Katich reignited the feud that has simmered for some time between these two New South Welshmen.
In 2009 it is believed Katich grabbed Clarke by the throat in the SCG change rooms following a disagreement while celebrating a victory against South Africa.
The cause of the conflict was said to be Clarke’s desire to have the team song done-and-dusted so that he could have dinner with his then partner Lara Bingle, while Katich believed Clarke should get his priorities in order.
The public’s reaction to the most recent instalment of this feud has been telling. Generally, a dumped player whinging about his sacking and suggesting there were forces at play that weren’t acknowledged at the time would be viewed as the ramblings of a bitter ex-player with a case of sour grapes.
Instead, the public has rallied behind the axed Katich and against the incumbent captain Clarke. In Katich, the public sees a man not afraid to ruffle a few feathers and speak his mind.
In an era of media-trained athletes where a cliché is never far away, Katich is not afraid to go against the grain and tell it how he sees it. That is not to say that Katich is an out-and-out rogue, or inclined to rally against the system without just cause.
At one point Katich himself was viewed as a future Australian Test captain. Following the fallout from the spiteful Sydney Test match against India in early 2008, highly regarded Fairfax cricket writer Peter Roebuck suggested that Katich – at that point not in the Test side – should be captaining the Australian side, and not the incumbent Ricky Ponting.
While Katich is seen as gruff, likeable and direct, the same cannot be said for Michael Clarke, who suffers from a lack of public support.
To my mind, the heavy criticism Clarke draws is excessive, although there is no doubt that Clarke has an image problem, which appears twofold.
Firstly, Clarke bares a resemblance to a slightly aloof kid at high school who holds himself with an air suggesting he thinks he is better than everyone else, without outwardly suggesting as much. Intentional or not, Clarke conveys a self-assured smugness which gets people offside.
The second facet at the heart of Clarke’s image problem is the sense that he lacks authenticity. On occasions Clarke comes across as a man who has undertaken far too much media training, which means he can say a lot while saying very little interesting.
Following another of Clarke’s tepid responses during interviews, I’ve often found myself wishing the interviewer would say to Clarke: “That’s all well and good, but what do you really think?”
Despite Cricket Australia publicly stating that the door is not closed on any player’s hopes of representing Australia, Katich would be well aware that while Clarke remains captain of the side, no amount of runs for New South Wales will see him re-enter the Test side.
And maybe it was this realisation that lead Katich to make his controversial remarks. With nothing to lose, why not give it to Clarke and Cricket Australia in turn with both barrels?
Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelFilosi