Melbourne: Out of favour Australian opener Simon Katich who was excluded from the list of cricketers offered central contracts by Cricket Australia found an unlikely supporter in country`s federal defence minister Stephen Smith.
Smith launched a scathing attack on Australian selectors over Katich`s omission from the list raising questions about lack of transparency in selection matters.
"Well, historically of course there have been a series of atrocities committed by the Australian Cricket Board or Cricket Australia or the Australian selectors against Western Australian cricketers but this one is extraordinary. This one is very high at the top of the list," Smith, himself a West Australian was quoted as saying during `Insiders` program on Australian television.
What has irked Smith is the decision taken after Katich has performed well in the last 30 Test matches averaging over 50.
"I mean this is a bloke who over the last 30 Tests he`s played, has got nearly 3,000 runs, an average of 50 and done better than Ponting and Mike Hussey.
"So it`s an extraordinary decision. And regrettably whilst it`s always easy to take a shot at selectors, I think it says a lot more about the selectors than it does about
He didn`t forget to take a dig at the National Selection Panel (NSP) headed by Andrew Hilditch questioning their competence.
"I think frankly it has sent very much a message which has undermined confidence in the selectors that they`re really up to the task in terms of managing a transition to the next generation of Australian cricketers."
Such has been the anger that the minister in a forthright manner said that if Katich isn`t there in the list of 25, he doesn`t find any better opener in that list.
"Simon Katich has the resolve and the determination that you want to have during hard times. So it`s an extraordinary decision. If he`s not in the top 25 Australian cricketers - and I can`t find one better opener than him on that list, let alone two - then I`ll go hee for chasey."
The CA`s head of cricket operations of Michael Brown however defended the selection policy.
"I certainly don`t support the idea that (if) you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. A lot of people work in cricket, which is essentially a volunteered game, who are incredibly talented, incredibly qualified and incredibly committed but do the best they can because they love the game," Brown was quoted as saying by a leading daily.