Australia news September 20, 2011

Nielsen stands down as Australia's coach


Tim Nielsen has stood down as Australia's coach after helping the side to a series victory in Sri Lanka. Nielsen, who took over from John Buchanan in 2007, made the announcement after Australia played out a draw in the final Test at the SSC in Colombo, saying he accepted it was time to go as part of the fall-out from last summer's 3-1 Ashes defeat.

His decision means Australia will have an interim head coach - possibly one of the assistants, Justin Langer or Steve Rixon - for their upcoming tour of South Africa. Nielsen faced the prospect of having to reapply for the job as head coach after the Argus review recommended a more wide-ranging brief for the team's mentor.

Nielsen said the past month since the release of the review had been exceptionally taxing, and felt hurt that he was asked to re-apply for the job given how closely CA had seen him work over the past four years.

"It has been a tough month," Nielsen said. "I feel as though through something totally independent and external to what I do, I feel as though my role has been changed and my job has been spilt to other applicants. I understand that, I can understand where they're coming from, we are trying to improve our sport.

"The only thing I'm a little disappointed in is that my role as Australian cricket coach doesn't just cover Test match cricket. We've maintained our No. 1 ranking in one day cricket over the last four years while I've been here, we've improved our T20 cricket and made some dramatic changes there to play in the last World Cup final. I feel as though we're on the right track.

"All of this has been brought to a head by the fact we played a very good cricket side in England last year and they outplayed us and beat us, and that happens sometimes. For 15 years before it was Australia doing it to other teams, and they had to lick their wounds. Now we've had a look at how we're going to improve and move forward, and the result is this.

"I feel as though whoever is given the opportunity is going to get a group of players who are in form, who have had some success, and I hope by it happening now, the place is in a better position than it was, maybe three or four months ago when it all happened."

Criticism of Australia's coaching process seemed to reflect directly on Nielsen, though this was fervently denied by CA after the review was released. Nielsen also noted that many of the recommended changes to the structure were those that he had pushed for himself as coach.

"There's that personal side to it, no doubt. That's the hard part, and that has played a little bit of a part in my thinking," Nielsen said. "I feel like I'm doing an interview for the job every day for the last four years. Because they've changed some structural things, and things I can honestly say I've been talking about and championing for a while.

"I would've appreciated an opportunity to work in the new system and the new role moving forward, but when you get beaten like we did by England, a very good cricket side, there is always fall-out, and we had to make some changes, and they've done that. I don't hold any grudges about that, but I also would've backed myself to do the job, given the opportunity. Because of those things it is just the right time I believe."

The new position will be a more senior role, and will involve setting the direction of all coaching at elite levels within Australia. Nielsen, 43, has decided not to put himself forward for the new job, despite Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland saying less than a fortnight ago that he hoped Nielsen would be "a front-line applicant".

"Tim has been national coach during a period in which we have had a long list of great champions leave the game and has been a strong support for new players coming into the side over that period," Sutherland said. "I was delighted when he agreed to renew his contract last year and had encouraged him to apply for the new, expanded and redesigned head coach role that the CA board approved last month after the tabling of the Australian Team Performance Review.

"However, I have spoken to Tim and understand and respect his decision to now begin a new chapter in his professional life. He has contributed greatly to Australian international cricket in roles as assistant national coach, head coach at the Centre of Excellence and during four years as national coach. We all wish him well in the future."

Nielsen, a former South Australia wicketkeeper, took on the head coach role after spending three years as an assistant with the national team under Buchanan, and then becoming head coach at the Centre of Excellence. He guided Australia through 15 Test series, nine of which the team won.

He now intends to move into another, yet to be announced cricket role, though it will not be with CA.

"I'm a cricket coach, I'm a cricket person," Nielsen said. "I wasn't good enough to play cricket for Australia so I've been living the dream as players talk about, as coaches talk about, this has been the greatest job I could do and I'm very proud of the fact I've been able to do it for four years, which I feel is a long time in international sport. I certainly will be looking at other opportunities and considering anything that's out there to use my skills and maintain contact with the sport I love.

"We've had some tremendous times, some really positive wins as a group, and we've had some tough times. That's the nature of international sport, that's the nature of what I do. It's basically got to a stage where we've sat down as a family and said are we willing to put ourselves in these positions, are we willing to put ourselves under this sort of pressure.

"In the end I thought it was best for myself and for the team that I move on now to give whoever takes over the role to start in a really positive environment, which I believe we've set up over the past two to three months and been displayed here over the past six or seven weeks."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Matthew on September 23, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    Can only suggest that everyone reads Katandthat3's posts cos he makes sense.

  • Christopher on September 23, 2011, 13:11 GMT

    A particularly emotional individual is using the pretence of a positive cricket arguement,to veil an increasingly personal tirade,reflecting only his own character.To be the best,one doesnt look for the lowest mark to beat and then,barely doing so,self congratulate.One benchmarks against the best and pursues it relentlessly.How would this teams performance compare to that which was flayed by England,the world no.1,earlier this year? If the results would not stand this comparison,then they have little of value to offer. If the point of this tour was to flay the worlds weakest attack on the worlds flattest wickets in two Tests,without result,then that was achieved.If the mission was for SL and Australia to win 4 international matches each,then that was achieved.If the objective was to luck in on a minefield wicket,right again.If this team was pitted against England now,theres no evidence to suggest it has progressed in an measurable fashion.The tour brought more questions than answers

  • Garry on September 22, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    I'll also add that Australia won both the ODI series and Test series so that to me is a good tour. By all accounts South Africa at home should be strong favourites but I like the way Australia have played. Galle might have been the only result but Australia would have won the 2nd test with the amount of time lost, there was nothing wrong with the pitch there I believe. Some of the negativity of the team and players is misguided to the extreme, excuses to suit whatever cause they're pushing. This tour was successful in many ways, there is progress and still a lot to be done in the next 12 months. The SA tour will be our hardest test and very tough from start to finish, it'll be exciting though, no matter what happens there it will set us up well for our home summer. The changes off the field have reason to make me more positive too. Keep it going boys.

  • Garry on September 22, 2011, 20:33 GMT

    Interesting to see what happens with the Redbacks now. No emotion in it, I see Marsh's test series as averaging 80+ and Hughes considerably less, it's black and white, all these other theories don't deal in facts which I've seen a lot of lately from the one bloke who is obviously disappointed in their own failings as a cricketer. Marsh made the most of his opportunites some others didn't, that's cricket. Don't why it's made out to be harder than it is. Marsh is here to stay for a while so deal with it. Stats can be used anyway to shape an arguement. There is no doubting Hughes's excellent 1st class stats and that's why he'll be given a decent amount of opportunities because he's made big scores but no-one looks at tour stats, some of these cases put forward get funnier each time, I'll stand by my comments and a lot of people have made other comments similar, delusional and as see through as glass.

  • david on September 22, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    big tom the guy who should have been given it years ago before he went to SL. does he want it now maybe not. but he was the guy to go 2 before the last 2 got the job. he may have felt the guys he would have coached then, were team mates of his. but thats not the case now. as i said big toms your man. dpk

  • Matthew on September 22, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    @katandthat3, totally agree with you on all points.

  • Christopher on September 22, 2011, 11:02 GMT

    Factual information is threatening to emotive people,who stoop to personal attacks to conceal shortcomings in their arguements.Hughes had a better tour average than Marsh,46 to 41.Hughes was better than Marsh in 2 of the 3 games they played together.Marsh didnt play at Galle.The only result in the series was at Galle,on a 'lottery'pitch,sanctioned by the ICC in a Test,deemed to have its outcome,influenced by the toss.In real world terms,the Australian team has not advanced and the bowling is,if anything,weaker,than during the Ashes.The SL attack is even less prolific than the next best,in Zimbabwe.2 of the 3 Test pitches were cricitcised by bloggers for being roads,a reputation earned over a number of series.Outside his 5/34 on a gift wicket at Galle,Lyon has 5/379 on tour at 75 and 17/899 in his career at 52.88.This so-called,'short'tour,lasted 6 weeks from the 6th August and included: 2 X T20I, 5 x ODI, 1 X tour match and 3 Tests. 11 matches.Argus was convened to stamp out mediocrity

  • Garry on September 22, 2011, 4:56 GMT

    Glad this broom is going through, Tim failed to realise in his assessment of our ranking as No1 in the ODI's was tempered by the meek demise in the World Cup. There are some good candidates around in the coaching ranks, we're lucky we have some really good coaches out there especially the head coaches of each state and a few assistants. Just providing everyone involved in the top set up is on the same page. With the review there is a bigger chance of that. Great series win by the Aussie boys, everyone knows it'll be a big test in SA. Hauritz, O'Keefe, Cummins, Bollinger and Paine will be putting the heat on to. I think Cummins is good enough now if he's fit. Happy for Marsh, Copeland and Lyon who did well in their debut series and for guys like Hughes and Clarke to find some much needed runs. Huss was amazing. Anyone who uses tour stats for such a short tour like this one instead of the raw test stats is delusional and clutching at straws.

  • Matthew on September 22, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    @hyclass, I'm not arguing against you on those points re the Argus review, the pitch, the SL bowling attack, that O'Keefe has a better record than Lyon (sure maybe O'Keefe is a bit stiff based on his record compared to other spinners) etc no disagreement from me that those things are all factual. I just oppose your willingness to use those things to detract from players' good performances as if you've played 100 tests yourself, particularly those only a couple of tests new to the team, and your blatant negativity.

  • Christopher on September 22, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    @Wozza-CY...I agree with all your choices,other than Tubby,who was carried as a batsman for most of his last 9 years and who is a CA Establishment man to the core. As convincing as he is when speaking publicly, there are holes in his record that go to the heart of character. In my estimation, Rod Marsh has the substance,record and character to re-establish Australias credentials. In Micheal Clarke, he has the captain he needs. As a lapsed champion once said,I once thought that practice made perfect.Ive since learned that its perfect practice that makes perfect.'That former champion was greg Chappell,

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