| Australian players celebrate after winning the Test series against Sri Lanka, in Colombo, on Tuesday |
Colombo: Tim Nielsen, the Australia head coach, has decided to step down rather than re-apply for his job.
Nielsen would have been forced to re-apply for a position he had held for more than four years, after a seven-month review into the way Australian cricket is run recommended that the role should be expanded and refined. The report came after Australia were badly beaten in the Ashes.
Australias draw in the third Test in Colombo signalled the end of Nielsens four-year spell at the helm, during which time he guided the team to victory in nine of 15 Tests. 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 spoke at length at a media conference in Colombo on Tuesday.
The following are excerpts
Q The reasons for this decision
A Look, we have gone through a lot of thinking over the last six months since the end of the Ashes series… The review process has come up with some recommendations that are meant for the improvement of Australian cricket. Among them, the role of the head coach is different to what I do at the present moment… It has some different responsibilities added to it… And therefore it spilt the role… For me to continue, I need to go back to the interview process… I need to go back to the ring with whoever else wants to apply. I do not think that at the moment, neither me nor the team are in a position to do that… I believe that for the last four years I have had an interview with the job! Weve had some tremendous times, some really positive wins as a group, and weve had some tough times. Thats the nature of international sport, thats the nature of what I do. Its basically got to a stage where weve 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 to give whoever takes over the role to start in a really positive environment, which I believe weve set up over the past two to three months. And its been displayed here over the past six or seven weeks.
If he would be staying on for the South Africa tour?
To be honest, we are working on it… I believe it is the right time for me to finish… That is the message that I will be giving to the Cricket Australia. I think that its been tough connecting with the family over the last four years where you have to adjust to the different time zones all the time… So, to be honest, I feel that this is the right time to quit.
If he would like to remain attached to cricket
Im a cricket coach, Im a cricket person. I wasnt good enough to play for Australia so Ive been living the dream… As players talk about, as coaches talk about, this has been the greatest job I could do and Im very proud of the fact that Ive 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 thats out there to use my skills and maintain contact with the sport I love.
If he would continue to coach other teams
I wont be working with Cricket Australia for now. I think it is good for both to have a change of voice… I have just told the players and also told James Sutherland (Cricket Australia chief executive)… We have been working through the process… We just want to take a break now.
Whether he took the decision after the review…
It has been a tough month. 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 theyre coming from, we are trying to improve our sport. The only thing Im a little disappointed in is that my role as Australian cricket coach doesnt just cover Test match cricket. Weve maintained our No. 1 ranking in one-day cricket over the last four years while Ive been here, weve improved our T20 cricket and made some dramatic changes there to play in the last World Cup final. I feel as though were 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 they outplayed us and beat us, and that happens sometimes. For 15 years, it was Australia doing it to other teams, and they had to lick their wounds. Now weve had a look at how were going to improve and move forward, and the result is this.
Whether he took it personally that he was asked to re-apply for the job…
I do not hold grudges against anyone. 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 it happening now, the place is in a better position than it was, maybe three or four months ago when it all happened.