Aussie team has settled well after period of transition: Nielsen

Aussie team has settled well after period of transition: Nielsen

Tim Nielsen

"We have gone through a period where we have won a few games, lost a few games. The older players and younger players are gelling well as a team, learning a lot about each other as a team and are playing well," said Nielsen.
The Australians, in India for a high-octane seven-match ODI series starting here on October 25, are on a high after defending the ICC Champions Trophy event without the presence of three injured players -- vice-captain Michael Clarke, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and left arm pacer Nathan Bracken.
Nielsen said the turnaround for the team, which was beaten at home by South Africa in the last southern summer, came in the subsequent visit to the Rainbow Nation.
"It (defeat against South Africa) certainly had a big impact for us. We had senior players who had moved on. Matthew Hayden had ended his career at that time. We had some younger players who were involved with the team for the first time. They did not like the fact we were losing," he said.
"They found international cricket very demanding. The Test and ODI series we lost in Australia had a big impact. By winning the Test series in South Africa, we were able to come back. Because we had lost we realised we needed to change and improve, need to do things differently," Nielsen said.

"We had some young players coming in and the bowling attack changed through injury. Brett Lee was out. We had (Mitchell) Johnson already and (Peter) Siddle, (Ben) Hilfenhaus and (Doug) Bollinger coming into the team. They were willing to do things as well as they could.
"We got to a stage when we won 14 out of 16 ODI games in the past three series, Pakistan, England and the Champions Trophy. That's been very positive signal for us," the Aussie coach said.
Nielsen said it was a challenging 12 months for not only the youngsters but also the seniors in the team who used to be part of a winning combination for a long period.
"It was definitely challenging, for the seniors as well. They had been in a period of such success. We had to sit down and actually define how we need to play our best cricket and what we need to do to become competitive. We had to talk to every player and make sure they understood what was required of them.
"We had to start looking a little bit outside the square and taking different players to make sure we had more than 11 nor 12 players. You saw through the CT (that) without Bracken, Haddin and Clarke, we were able to cover their losses with three young players who came in," Nielsen said.

The Aussie coach said the key was getting a squad of 14 out of 15 players who can have an impact at the international level and themselves build up competition for spots in the playing eleven.
"After getting a squad of 14 or 15 players together that can have impact at the international level, there's a step up in intensity. After getting the opportunity they are desperate to perform and ensure they keep their spots and make it hard for them to be replaced," Nielsen said.
"We are training well, preparing well, players are looking after themselves and really enjoy playing as a team.
"Younger players are more reserved. They are not going to come out and say what the result of the series is going to be (like Brett Lee or Glenn McGrath in the past) or how many runs they are going to make," he said.
"But the youngsters have set their own goals and are confident of achieving those. They are talking about these things internally and being confident of what they are going to achieve. These are all signs of the team growing, developing and changing," he explained.

Asked how different was his approach to that of his predecessor John Buchanan, Nielsen said, "I learned a lot by working with John. I had been assistant coach for three yeas and was lucky to see how he did things from inside. The biggest change (from the Buchanan era) has been the team and not so much in the coaching philosophy.
"I now have a much younger and and more developing team. John went through a period where he had such great players - Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Hayden, (Justin) Langer playing together for an extended period whereas through injury we have had three or four of our most experienced players (missing).
"Brett Lee broke down, Stuart Clark broke down and Hayden retired. You can't treat 23-24-year-old player the same way as you treat a 31-year-old. We need to be helping them out more, need to be providing more assistance to them to make sure their preparations are organised well," he explained.

Complimenting the youngsters of the team for learning the tricks of the trade quickly, Nielsen recalled the hard work put in by him and captain Ricky Ponting over the last year.
"We are getting through that period now. They have learned quickly, they understand what works for them individually. They are very aware of what they need.
"(Over the) last 12 months, Ricky and I had to work hard, to keep talking to them and give all the information we can and provide them with the best chance of settling in," he explained.