Simon Katich: "Gambhir is a passionate captain"

Later this year, Simon Katich will begin work at the Kolkata Knight Riders as assistant coach to Jacques Kallis. The job will unite the former Australia batsman with Gautam Gambhir, two cricketers who carry somewhat similar reputations for feistiness.

Katich laughs at the mention of the Delhi Test of 2008, when the pair exchanged angry words on the field.   -  K. Pichumani

Later this year, Simon Katich will begin work at the Kolkata Knight Riders as assistant coach to Jacques Kallis. The job will unite the former Australia batsman with Gautam Gambhir, two cricketers who carry somewhat similar reputations for feistiness. Katich laughs at the mention of the Delhi Test of 2008, when the pair exchanged angry words on the field.

“Yeah, we had a good little run-in in Delhi, when I was bowling! I think that will be the first thing all the boys mention if I see any footage of it. Gautam and I have already had a laugh about it, but that was in a former life. So now that we’re working together, obviously, that’s done and dusted. I don’t think there will be any dramas,” he says.

Passionate captain

Katich is impressed with Gambhir’s captaincy. “I like the fact that as captain, he’ll be passionate about the way he wants the team to play,” he says. “And the team has been successful in the past. Trevor Bayliss has done a fantastic job there.”

Katich may have thrived as a gritty opener in his Test career, but he enjoyed success in the shortest format too, leading Perth Scorchers to the Big Bash title in the 2013-14 season. “I haven’t had any coaching experience as such. But having played the game recently helps. There are a number of recently-retired players coaching – Ricky Ponting at Mumbai Indians, Daniel Vettori at RCB, and Jacques. That seems to be the trend and being fresh out of the game helps, because batting in particular has changed. That’s why we’re seeing so many high scores in one-dayers.”

Dragging Katich away from Gambhir during that clash in Delhi was Michael Clarke. It is ironic that the two famously fell out a year later after the Sydney Test against South Africa, when they clashed in the dressing room at the SCG. The feud ran on, and was never truly resolved. The issue returned to the spotlight last month when Katich, speaking at an event in Melbourne, aimed a rather funny jibe at Clarke.

“Oh well, it never really got dealt with,” Katich says, reflecting on the incident. “Because Cricket Australia never did anything about it and it never got spoken about – apart from obviously in the press. I don’t deny that it happened, but life goes on. I didn’t play a lot of Test cricket when he became captain – or none.

“That’s the way it panned out; what’s done is done. I’ve moved on, have a young family now and I enjoyed the last few years of my career when I played after that happened. And then I’ve been happily retired.”

Katich is a commentator with ABC radio in Australia now and was at the SCG during the fifth ODI. Clarke was there too, and dropped into the Channel 9 TV studio. The pair are not on talking terms, Katich confirms. “Yeah, I’ve seen him a couple of times,” he laughs. Did they stop and say hello? “No.” Did they nod and move on? “Yeah, pretty much.”

Team over personal differences

They did not allow that dispute, however, to affect the team, Katich believes. “You’re not going to have the same opinions as everyone on the team because there are strong characters,” he says. “And so we had a disagreement. But when we stepped on to the field – we played together after that happened for 12 months or so – there was never any issue. That’s the respect that you have when you wear the Baggy Green – put the team first and any personal differences aside.”