Tim Nielsen has been confirmed as John Buchanan's replacement as the coach of Australia. Nielsen, who became the hot favourite when Tom Moody withdrew from contention, will take over the role after the World Cup.
Like Buchanan, Nielsen played first-class cricket in Australia but never reached international level. He played the last of his 101 games as a wicketkeeper-batsman for South Australia in 1999 before he moved into coaching, first with the Redbacks and then as an assistant to Buchanan with the national team.
Nielsen, 38, is currently the head coach at the Commonwealth Bank Centre of Excellence at Brisbane, meaning he has worked with a number of the new crop of players who will over the next few years work their way into the Australia line-up. He mentioned Ben Hilfenhaus, Adam Voges, Mitchell Johnson and Tim Paine as players who might soon break into the Test team.
Nielsen said it would be a huge challenge to fill the holes left by the retirements of champions like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath but he believed Australia could remain the world's No. 1 team regardless. "You can't replace superstars," Nielsen said.
"You're not going to get two blokes who come in and take over their workload and their results. I think what we need to be conscious of is making sure we have 12 to 15 players coming and trying to move forward together as a group and try and replace the 1200 wickets in maybe little bits and pieces.
"We're not silly enough to think that somebody will walk in and take their spot. But as we've seen in the past, we never that knew Warne was going to be as great as he was until he played."
Nielsen described himself as a "hands-on" mentor who might view coaching differently to his predecessor but would not rule out some Buchanan-style tactics if required. "We are probably different people in our own way, Nielsen said. "Having worked closely with John I think we're a good match.
"One of the roles and responsibilities I'll have is to make sure we have those different ideas coming, if they're not coming from me, from different people outside the coaching room. I enjoy getting in there with the players and doing the work. I enjoy throwing balls around and being part of it."
It is unclear yet whether Nielsen will accompany the team to the World Cup, which begins in the West Indies next month. His contract will run until the end of Australia's 2009 Ashes defence.