Australia batsman Simon Katich looks set to win his battle to be fit for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane. The opener is due to represent New South Wales against Tasmania in next week's Sheffield Shield match after recovering from a fractured thumb.
Katich sustained the injury in the build-up to last month's series loss in India. After passing the injury off as bruising, Katich played in the series but was obviously affected by the injury, averaging just 27 Australia went down to a 2-0 series loss.
If the Aussies are going to regain the Ashes then there key batsmen will have to perform. Katich is certainly one of his side's most consistent performers, scoring 4,091 in his 54 Tests including ten centuries. However, only one of those centuries has come against the English and Katich will be determined to add to that total during the upcoming series.
Although Australia's form over the past few months has been far from their usual standards, the openers have consistently put on decent partnerships and the English will be fully aware of the danger posed by Katich and Shane Watson. The openers came together during last year's Ashes series and have given Australia valuable runs at the top of the order, scoring 1,356 runs in their 13 Tests at an average of 56.5 together and the cricket betting reflects just how dangerous they can be.
The ability of the openers to put runs on the board at the top of the order was one of the features that made Australia such a dominant force when Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer led the line. Watson and Katich have so far produced the goods with three centuries and eight half-century stands since coming together last year and could prove to be a thorn in England's side this winter. Anyone thinking about placing a cricket bet should remember this.
If England can find and early breakthrough and expose the fairly soft looking Australia middle order at an early stage in the innings then they will stand a very good chance of winning their first Ashes series on Australian soil in 24 years. Katich certainly won't be giving his wicket away easily and the English will have to be creative when bowling to the opener.