Canned Katich backs Hughes
Sydney - Dumped opening batsman Simon Katich has put his bitterness behind him and backed his unproven successor Phillip Hughes as the man to help lead Australia's Test cricket team out of the doldrums.
The 36-year-old launched an angry tirade against selectors after he was cut from Australia's annual list of nationally contracted players in June, accusing the Andrew Hilditch-led panel of favouring potential over form in picking players.
Katich had been one of Australia's best performing batsmen over the past couple of years, but missed the last three Tests of the doomed Ashes campaign after being ruled out with an Achilles injury.
His 22-year-old replacement Hughes, perennially hounded for a perceived weakness against quality seamers, failed to stand up to the rigours of England's quicks for a second consecutive Ashes but was nonetheless rewarded with a contract.
Rising above the rancour, Katich insisted Hughes has the potential to repay the faith of the selectors.
"He knows how to make runs. He knows how to make big scores," Katich said of Hughes, who averaged 16 in three Tests against England, in Wednesday's Daily Telegraph.
"He's already made 16 first-class hundreds, which is no mean feat for a player of his age. I think he'll be better for the little off period he had last year.
"All batsmen go through it at some stage during their career. You have to adapt and get better and he'll do that, I have no doubt. Phil works hard and he's a good kid."
Despite backing the diminutive Hughes, Katich has returned to state side New South Wales and has not written off his chances of making a comeback to the Australian test side after being previously written off after a period of poor form.
The selection panel he blamed in part for Australia's 3-1 loss to England will be revamped in line with recommendations of an independent team performance review released last week.
The new-look panel will include captain Michael Clarke and a new coach with greater powers to be appointed, while being led by a full-time head to replace unpopular chairman Hilditch, who acted in a part-time capacity.
Head of youth development Greg Chappell will also relinquish his role as a full-time selector as part of the shake-up.
"I was told four years ago they were never going to pick me again and I got back in so you never know," said Katich.
"The same guys who told me that are no longer in their jobs so it's a bit ironic they've been given the flick.
"I have the same attitude I had four years ago. I'm just going to enjoy my cricket with New South Wales."
Former top dogs Australia, who have slipped to fifth in the ICC world test rankings, play fourth-ranked Sri Lanka in the first test of a three-match series starting August 31 in Galle.