Nielsen expects team regeneration
Tim Nielsen, the Australia coach, has said the selectors' decision to exclude opener Simon Katich from the list of contracted players is a sign that they are looking to regenerate the Test team. The move to cut the 35-year-old Katich, and thus effectively end his career, drew strong reactions, with both Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson expressing surprise at the move.
Nielsen, though, said this was probably part of a broader plan the selectors have for the team. "You don't necessarily like players not performing or not retained but it's the nature of the beast at this level," he told AAP in Brisbane, where Australia are training in preparation for their tour of Sri Lanka. "It is pretty clear the selectors have made a decision to regenerate this team. We've been through a period where our Test performances haven't been as good as we would have liked. We've got some older players and we have got some younger players looking for an opportunity. At some stage the regeneration of this team will take place and I think you have seen the first step in that process."
The lowest point in Australia's slide was the the 3-1 defeat in the last Ashes, a series in which Nielsen admitted he had been outcoached. "You don't like being singled out. It is hard at times but when we play like the Ashes you stand up and cop it on the chin just like the players on the field. There was a lot of talk about being outcoached in the Ashes and it is hard to argue with that. If it [criticism] doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. And we are looking forward to getting better."
The road to improvement though, Nielsen stressed, had to be approached in a measured manner. Australia are now ranked fifth in the ICC Test rankings and Nielsen said the aim was not to reach No. 1 but climb the ladder step by step. "We are not even thinking about No.1. To get to No. 4 then No. 3 (and so on) in the Test rankings and maintain our hold on the No.1 ranking in one-day cricket we need our players to be as consistent as they can be."
Australia's training camp at the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence in Brisbane began on July 4. The tour of Sri Lanka begins on August 6 with the first of two Twenty20 internationals in Pallekele, and will include five one-day internationals and three Tests.