Nielsen satisfied with Sussex workout
Australia coach Tim Nielsen insists he is happy with how his squad’s Ashes preparations are shaping up after their first tour match against Sussex ended in a draw.
Carl Hopkinson scored 115 but Sussex’s bold bid to score 418 came up short as they closed on 373 for seven and Nielsen was satisfied with the workout his attack got on the final day.
He said: “We haven’t played a four or five-day game since March and this game was all about getting back into the swing of things.
“We got two lots of 80 overs under our belt and apart from Marcus North our batsmen spent some decent time in the middle, it has been a positive week for us.
“We can certainly improve but I’d rather be looking to do that with another tour game to go rather than heading into the first Test.”
The Australians were heading to Worcester after the game where they play England Lions in a four-day game starting on Wednesday.
Left-armer Mitchell Johnson, who was rested against Sussex, will play and Nielsen admitted that Peter Siddle, the pick of their attack at Hove, will almost certainly face England when the Ashes starts on July 8.
Nielsen added: “I think Siddle is a lock (for Cardiff). He’s bowling beautifully at the moment and every time he bowls he gets better.”
Skipper Ricky Ponting gave all four of his seamers at least two spells on a flat pitch today and Nielsen says they are striving for consistency ahead of the Test series.
“We had some patches in the game when we bowled outstandingly and others when we weren’t quite on song,” he said.
“I was glad it was a flat wicket and fast outfield with a pretty small margin for error because it showed that we couldn’t just roll up and do what we wanted to do. We had to be precise and that should hold us in good stead for the game at Worcester.
“This week was all about getting rhythm and consistency into our games and we’re a lot better off for these four days and I’m comfortable with where we’re at at the moment.”
The big question mark over the Australia Test attack is whether off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who took just one wicket against Sussex, will play in Cardiff in what are expected to be spin-friendly conditions.
“We’ll wait and see whether it’s the spinning nightmare everyone seems to be talking about,” said Nielsen, “The stats show that the quicks have had quite a bit of success there.
“Nathan will learn a lot from this week in terms of bowling in English conditions.
“He can bowl better but I thought he showed in the second innings at times that he was in a bit of rhythm but then he would bowl a couple of bad balls that went for four.
“He needs a bit more consistency and that’s what he will be working on this week.”