School was out for summer
Conversation: Simon Katich, NSW cricket captain and test hopeful - Cricket's like faith: You have to believe
By Damir Govorcin
"My faith gives me a focus in how I lead my life and go about my cricket," says NSW cricket captain Simon Katich (pictured).
"In cricket, you have to believe in your ability; otherwise you get yourself into trouble.
"Faith is a lot like that. You have to firmly believe in something.
"I live by the motto do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Simon says his parents, Vince and Kerry, have played a pivotal role in his cricket and personal life.
"Mum and dad have been my mentors … they have provided me with an example to follow," he says.
"I went to a Catholic school and the values I learnt are what I have tried to apply in my own life."
He made his mark as a cricketer in his home town of Perth, as captain of the Australian under-19 team and later as captain of Western Australia.
But he felt his career was stagnating and that a move across the Nullarbor to Sydney would give him the chance to push his name back in front of the national selectors. It was the toughest decision he has had to make, given that it meant leaving his family and friends.
Simon's international career stands at one Test and one limited-overs international appearance.
The stylish left-hander has been on the first-class scene since 1996-97 and has been on Australian tours to Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and England. But he hasn't been able to crack it for a regular berth in the Australian side. A bout of chicken pox ruined his Test chances in Sri Lanka.
At 27, Simon realised it was make or break time in his career. So he headed east to establish himself in a NSW side bristling with talented players, including Steve and Mark Waugh, Michael Bevan, Michael Slater and Michael Clarke.
"I've settled in more easily than I thought I would," says Simon. "It's tough being away from family and friends, but when you are a full-time cricketer your team-mates compensate for that.
"You are always in and out, playing cricket so you haven't got much time to get homesick.
"I went to Perth for Christmas to visit family and friends, which was an enjoyable time, but Sydney is my home now."
The noses of some former NSW cricketers were put out of joint when Simon was given the captaincy of the Blues.
Speculation was rife that he had been offered the captaincy as part of the lure to come to Sydney, but Simon denies this was the case.
"I'm not that naïve to say to the NSW officials I will only come to NSW if I'm given the captaincy," he says.
"You have to earn the respect of your team-mates.
"I was just happy to be a member of the side, so when I was given the captaincy it was quite a big shock.
He says everyone in and around the side has been so supportive including Steve Rixon (NSW coach) and Dave Gilbert (NSW chief executive officer), making the transition so much easier.
He hands over the reins of captaincy to Steve
Waugh when he is available, a situation which suits him just fine.
"I'm happy to hand over the reins to Steve; after all he is the Australian captain. It's a joy to play with him and to be able to learn from him."
Simon's form with the Blues has been consistent, but he is yet to make a century for his new state.
With the Blues in the hunt for honours at the first-class and one-day domestic level, Simon is hoping a run of big scores is around the corner.
"My form has been a little frustrating," he says. "I have been consistently getting starts, without going on to make the big scores.
"I have been working hard at making improvements in my game, so hopefully I can knuckle down and finish the season with a few hundreds.
"I have been playing one bad shot and getting out. I will just have to be patient and hopefully I can get on a roll."
Simon will never forget his Test debut, playing in the fourth Ashes Test at Leeds in 2001.
He came in for an injured Steve Waugh, scoring 15 in the first innings and 0 not out in the second as the Australians went down courtesy of a superb century from Mark Butcher.
He was given his baggy green cap by former Australian skipper and Channel Nine commentator Richie Benaud.
Despite the defeat, the match will always remain special to Simon.
"The best thing about the match was that my family and friends came over to England and were able to share in my moment," he said.
"I have stashed my baggy green cap in one of my drawers, and I haven't given up hope of playing Test cricket again.
"I will continue to work hard and hopefully in the future I will get another crack at it."
Simon's family has a rich history of wine growing in Perth's Swan Valley region.
"We have four acres of vineyard and dad has been selling wine for the past 10 years," says Simon. "It's been a passion of his since he retired from the police force."
After his commitments with NSW are completed this season, Simon will travel to England to play a season of county cricket with Hampshire. He is no stranger to English conditions, having had a successful stint with Durham (1089 runs at 43.56) in the 2000 season.
Simon is looking forward to playing alongside the world's best leg-spinner, Shane Warne, who is returning to Hampshire - which he calls "my second home" - to take up the captaincy.
"It will be great playing with someone of the calibre of Shane, and hopefully I can make a lot of runs to kick-start my summer with NSW next season," he says.
"It will also be a good opportunity to push my name back in front of the Australian selectors."