ICL: Indian Cricket League

Nielsen says Test spots still open


Tim Nielsen, Australia’s new coach, believes the three replacements for the holes left by Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer have still not been decided. While Phil Jaques seems to have sealed the opening batting place, Mitchell Johnson the bowling spot and Stuart MacGill the spinning vacancy, Nielsen said there was still time for other players to be considered for the first Test against Sri Lanka from November 8.

“I don’t think the Glenn McGrath position has been finalised and it’s the same with the spin position,” Nielsen said. “There are also a lot of contenders for the opening position and Phil Jaques has done well over the past couple of weeks.”

Jaques strengthened his claim with 13 and 167 against Western Australia in Perth last week while Chris Rogers struggled before his chances were ended when he was hospitalised with appendicitis. Brad Hodge, who has also signalled his intention to partner Matthew Hayden at the Gabba, managed only 61 runs in eight games in India while Michael Hussey is recovering from a hamstring strain and the Australian management wants him to stay at No. 4.

Nielsen said the round of Pura Cup games over the next week would be crucial as the Australian one-day players switch from limited-overs to Test mode. Ideally he wants his batsmen to spend long periods in the middle and the bowlers to deliver two or three spells a day.

“This first game will be important for the guys,” he said. “They have four days of playing, getting up and playing again. It’s something they haven’t done for a while.”

The fixtures will also be important for Stuart MacGill (knee) and Shaun Tait, who are coming back from off-season operations. MacGill’s New South Wales host Queensland from Friday, the same day Victoria begin their contest with Western Australia. Tait, who is fighting to prove his fitness from an elbow problem, will have a one-day match against Tasmania on Saturday before the Pura Cup game starting next Monday.

Despite the loss of the three greats, Nielsen is confident Australia will be able to provide cover. “I want to make sure there is heaps of depth to do a great job,” he said. “There’s a new focus in the team and it’s the start of a new era. It will be positive and challenging time.”

Source:Cricket News

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