Pak v Aus, 2nd MCC Spirit of Cricket Test, Headingley, 1st day July 21, 2010

'It's easy for us to panic a bit' - Nielsen


Panic is not a word that's thrown around lightly within the Australian set-up. At least, not when they're talking about themselves. But the coach Tim Nielsen has conceded the Australian bowlers might have lost their nerve after their batting colleagues collapsed for 88 under overcast skies at Headingley.

When Ricky Ponting won the toss and chose to bat, the bowlers certainly weren't expecting to have the ball in their hands just after 2pm, and they didn't quite know how to attack the situation. Doug Bollinger and Mitchell Johnson failed to find much swing and Ben Hilfenhaus attacked the leg stump of Salman Butt too much. Before they knew it Pakistan's openers had 35 from six overs.

"You get bowled out for 88, you think we've got to bowl the miracle ball every ball and try to bowl these blokes out in ten overs if we're going to have any chance," Nielsen said. "We bowled a few to their strengths, they got away from us a little bit and all of a sudden you're chasing your tail, the first five overs go for 30 or 40 and they're halfway to us. It's easy for us to panic a bit."

Nielsen is the man the Australians call on to front the media on their most difficult days, when the players are reluctant to answer questions, and he even prefaced his comments with: "You know it's been an ordinary day if I'm sitting here." But despite the way the Australians struggled to handle the pressure, Nielsen insisted it was not a major concern in the lead-up to an Ashes series.

"It's not a worry," he said. "I'd prefer we're exposed to these experiences now than the first time it happens it happens in an Ashes series that everyone is going to be focusing on. We have a couple of young blokes playing in their second Test match, we've got a young bowling attack ... it's exciting for them to be exposed to this sort of pressure and understand that Test match cricket is not easy."

He was especially pleased with the way Hilfenhaus fought back after tea to find the right line and pick up the key wicket of Butt. Full, swinging deliveries were just as difficult for the Pakistan top order to handle as the Australian batsmen, and Nielsen did not have harsh words for his own batting group despite Australia falling to their lowest Test total since 1984.

"We had four or five lbws and there weren't too many of those that were big slogs as such, they just got beaten by the swinging ball," Nielsen said. "At the end of the innings we were conscious of trying to be positive and get as many runs as we could."

The memory of the Sydney Test in January, when Pakistan lost after taking a 206-run first-innings lead, has given the Australians hope that they can dig their way out of such a hole again. Their best-case scenario is to skittle Pakistan quickly on the second day - they do have a long tail and are three down already - and if Australia can manage that, anything is possible.

"I know we're 50 or 60 behind but at least we're a chance," Nielsen said. "If we can have a good morning tomorrow and take a couple of wickets and not let the scoreboard get out of control we're still a chance in the game."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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  • sunny on July 22, 2010, 9:51 GMT

    any other team would have been resigned to their fate had they got out for 88.but not australia(maybe pakistans capitulation at SCG gives the aussies a bit of confidence).......however this australian team does not carry forward the legacy left behind by their money is on pakistan this time.this comes from an indian.....pakistan needs to break this trend of losses.

  • naeem on July 22, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    we should keep in mind that: Australia comes very hard out of these situations And Pakistan has habit of throwing away the advantage they get.

  • Khawaja on July 22, 2010, 9:03 GMT

    i think the australian bowling coach a burly moustachioed character is to blame who obviously wont know much about swing bowling...hilfenhaus bowls quite straight and for swing to really work u must widen teh angles...johnston and bollinger fast left armers probably want their natural deliveries to work on teh softer seaming english pitches...they need to reduce speed and bowl it up and put something on the bowl when they deliver it...polishing one side is also essential...

  • Muhammad on July 22, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    I think the team management (Pak) need to sit with the 4 remaining batsmen the akmals, shoaib and U Amin, that Pakistan only need 50 runs from each of you and we inshallah will be winner. The bowling and the fielding in the second innings must be forgotton at the moment and at least add 200 to the current total and who know might be more than this... I feel extremely sorry to say that it is our batting and to some extent that has let us down in every match. I hope and pray this time the remaininig guys could concentrate and post a total that doesn't require second batting for Pakistan. Seriously, if these batsmen don't have the techniques and patients to play test cricket then they should be kicked off as please bring guys like Asim Kamal etc; I hope he is still playing.....

    Any ways as always Good luck to the Green shirts....

  • Nuaman on July 22, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    @Tahir_khan: LOL at "other wise he must sit out so he can learn".......untill now i used to think that one can only learn if he plays. This is a new leeson by some utterly pessimistic way! Instead of applauding what is a great performance, you are nothing but cursing bro....

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    No chance now, we're winning this one mates.

  • Cric on July 22, 2010, 6:48 GMT

    bring steve bucknor ... Ausssies can still win this match if bucknor does the umpiring..

  • Dummy4 on July 22, 2010, 6:39 GMT

    It'd be alot better for Pakistanis to keep their nerves! bring the lead to atleast 200, it'd be tough for them than!

  • Bryn on July 22, 2010, 6:19 GMT

    Aj Mal makes a very decent point

  • umar on July 22, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    After 13 consecutive test there should be at least one test for Pakistan. It is not very big deal.

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