Katich is one of my favourite players and has been for a long time, my victorian counterpart on the other hand has other views.......what does he think now? The rock among the sandcastles Peter Roebuck November 23, 2008 Latest related coverage Simon Katich's innings has been the difference between two ordinary batting sides performing poorly on an improving deck. Alone among the local batsmen in the second outing, the unfashionable lefty sniffed the ball, bided his time, worked the ball into gaps and selected his shots judiciously. He was a rock amid sandcastles. Alone among them he took note of his team's predicament and responded accordingly. Cautious batsmen are appreciated in recessions, economic and cricketing. Nothing Katich does at the crease catches the eye. He shuffles around like a minister without a portfolio. He has the grace of a bulldog. His bottom hand features strongly in all his shots. His batting is full of punches, clubs, clouts and carves. But there is a reassuring practicality about his work - and it is work, not play. He is built for reliability not speed, comfort not flash. The whole is greater than the parts. Katich started the day 33 runs shy of a hundred. Already he had achieved beyond adjusted expectation. Ten months ago he was playing State cricket with little prospect of promotion. His career had been a tale of bad luck and missed chances. An intelligent man with fire in his belly, he had always been well regarded and yet also something of an outsider. It was not so much that he rejected the pack; just that he did not belong in it. It must seem a long time ago. Somewhere along the way he came to terms with himself, an outlook he needs to pass on to Brad Haddin. Aware of his responsibilities, confident about his method, the southpaw searched for his tempo as play resumed. Like cement he is easy to shift until he is set, whereupon a drill is required. On another day his innings might have ceased at 70 as a mistimed straight drive attracted the attentions of Iain O'Brien. But fortune smiles on the detective's son these days and the catch was spilt. Not much later Katich groped at a dipping delivery sent down by Daniel Vettori but a portly gentlemen stationed at short leg grassed the leather. Vettori's ability to beat batsmen in the air counts among the delights of the game. Later an apparently innocuous delivery fooled Haddin, upon which the edgy gloveman resembled a stunned mullet. Katich dominated the innings. His technique was under control. Every ball found him moving across the crease, assessing and responding. Most contemporary batsmen chase the ball, Katich waits till it has reached him then tucks it away. He wears his seatbelt and remains within the limit. It is a tried and trusted method that has helped him to occupy the crease long enough to score four Test hundreds in 2008. Not bad for a man used to batting in the middle order. Not bad for a player whose prospects were assumed to be bleak after some goose nominated him for the leadership. Katich scored most of his runs square of the wicket, with considered steers to leg or canny guides past point. Now and then he pushed the ball past the bowler whereupon the leather seemed to gather momentum as swiftly as a Canberra rumour. He has the ability to impart power without apparent effort. Occasionally he erupted into a pull, an adventure he does not need a second invitation to attempt. All off these aggressive offerings were played with intent and control. Katich has been around too long and suffered too many setbacks to trust his fates. As he approached three figures the emergency opener's main concern was that he might run out of partners. Mitchell Johnson soothed nerves with a notably straight willow. Later he bowled with the same gusto. Katich took every available run (a strategy once scorned but nowadays commonplace). Before long he entered the 90s, a location capable of disturbing the most constant brain. Undeterred, the durable lefty hooked a bumper to the fence whereupon he allowed a broad grin to escape him. Realising that his work was incomplete, Katich collected his thoughts and continued his unobtrusive pursuit. Raising his tempo, he hurried past 130. Apart from a superbly timed clip over square leg, none of his shots was memorable but the scoreboard kept rolling and New Zealand's hopes kept receding. The Kiwis never did find a way to remove him. Katich remained undefeated, thereby adding his name to the short list of Australian openers to carry their bats in Test cricket. It was an achievement unforeseeable at the start of the year. Aided by poor umpiring and abetted by inspired out-fielding, the hosts ensured that a redoubtable innings was not wasted.