Nielsen's stocks rise despite review
Tim Nielsen's measured response to the release of the Argus review has served to enhance his standing as the Australian team coach, moving Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland to urge his re-application for the job.
The review carried a stinging critique of the skill development and culture of the Australian side under the management of Nielsen and the former captain Ricky Ponting, and openly questioned whether Australia's players had been given the best coaching possible over the period.
"It is critical for the development of elite players' skills, physiology and psychology that they have the right coaches available to assist them," the review stated. "The panel queries whether we do, given the performance decline of the team in the past four years."
However Nielsen's response was to immediately speak publicly in support of the review and its overall intentions, while seeking to keep the squad calm as it digested a wide range of inconvenient truths. Sutherland said Nielsen had risen in the estimation of many by how he had handled such a testy episode.
"I'd seen Tim's comments, I saw his interview before the game the other day and what I was really impressed by was the way in which he's carrying himself, extremely professional," Sutherland told ESPNcricinfo. "As part of that with me being here to meet with him and meet with others, I got a very clear feeling for the fact that other people are saying that as well. So that's great, he's got a good focused attitude and I'm very pleased about that."
Jack Clarke, the CA chairman, was lukewarm in his encouragement of Nielsen to reapply when the report was released last Friday, but Sutherland's view was now that the incumbent would be very seriously considered.
"That's one of the things I've spoken to him about, I'm keen for him to do exactly that," Sutherland said. "What he does over the next little while only demonstrates his commitment and his preparedness to keep getting better."
Having made some inquiries of his own since numerous reports around the release of the review, Sutherland also sought to clarify reports surrounding Greg Chappell's apparently soured relationships with Australian players. He said Chappell's barring from the Australian dressing room at times last summer was only as a result of an internal decree to keep all selectors and management at a distance from the team.
"I didn't know anything about it, but I've since done a little bit of research on that to understand specifically what happened," Sutherland said. "Immediately after the Ashes we went into T20 and one-day mode … and what happened, there were a lot distractions and fall-out after the Ashes.
"We as a group decided that we would keep intruders into the dressing room to an absolute minimum and that included whoever the selectors on duty were at the time, and part of that was because it was right in the midst of selection for the World Cup. We were announcing our World Cup squads and what have you, so all of us made a commitment across the board that management and selectors would spend as little time in the dressing room, and the only time we would be in the dressing room was actually when the team was in the field."
Sutherland said CA had begun the search for the right candidate for the newly-created position of general manager team performance, and would advertise for it this weekend.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo