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Nielsen defends Australia bowlers

Investec Test Series

Peter Siddle & Carl Hopkinson

Seamer Peter Siddle strives against Carl Hopkinson, one of two victims before lunch although he went wicketless after

Australia coach Tim Nielsen moved to defend his bowling attack after they struggled to dismiss a weakened Sussex on day two of their Ashes tour opener in Hove.

The tourists needed more than 80 overs to dismiss the county side and secure a 38-run first-innings lead as Sussex posted a dogged 311 all out.

Nielsen was generally content with the performance of his four main strike bowlers, but did berate the quartet of Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus for conceding 22 no balls.

More worrying still for Nielsen, frontline off-spinner Nathan Hauritz failed to take a wicket in his 18 overs and leaked 98 runs on a pitch generally accepted as being helpful to the spinners.

Nielsen said: “Some days if you’re not quite on your game and the opposition are playing well then you’re certainly going to get hurt, our challenge is to work out why it didn’t go quite so well for us today.

“It was good for us to have to work hard through their lower order and they played pretty well.

“As for the no balls, shocking weren’t they! We’re pulling our hair out about them and it’s the only thing I am a bit grumpy about tonight.

“We don’t bowl them in Twenty20, maybe because it’s a free hit after, but we didn’t have a bowler apart from Katich who didn’t concede a no ball today.

“It’s certainly something we’ve got to fix up and work at. Look, we’ve had our first roll since March 15 in a four-day game but we’re certainly not going to panic because guys have not had the best days.

“When we sat down and tried to organise our tour that was exactly the reasoning behind having two tour games against counties.

“We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to give all the players good quality playing time before the first Test came around to get any kinks out of the system and we started that process here today.”

Commenting on Hauritz, Nielsen added: “I thought he was good in patches but didn’t bowl as well as he would have liked in other patches, but that was generally the day of all our bowlers I think. He won’t be sitting back tonight thinking it’s all roses that’s for certain.

Brad Haddin & Rory Hamilton-Brown

Rory Hamilton-Brown cuts Nathan Hauritz for four en route to 37. The spinner sent down 18 wicketless overs for 98 today

“More than half the runs Sussex scored were in boundaries and that sums the day up for us, we probably bowled one loose ball an over, be it Nathan or the quicks, and the times we were able to bowl with some control and to our fields were the times we got lots of wickets.”

One of the Sussex batting heroes of the day, wicketkeeper Andrew Hodd, said it felt as though he had swallowed a hedgehog after he survived a blow in the throat after ducking into a Clark bouncer.

Hodd continued bravely on to bat for two hours and score 40, saying afterwards: “It’s not often you can say you have scrapped hard against a few of your boyhood heroes and I enjoyed it.

“I got one right in the throat, I’ve got two Adam’s apples at the moment. I played it like a hand grenade unfortunately and set myself up for quite a bit more short stuff.

“It’s such a step up facing international bowlers who can bowl at a good clip compared to county cricket. Generally you only face two or three bowlers of their pace in a season, so it’s good to gauge where you’re at.

“The boys did brilliantly throughout. No-one really kicked on which was a shame because we could have got up to their total or even passed it.

“We have competed well for the first two days. We didn’t want it to become an exhibition match.

“We are playing in front of some great crowds but we didn’t want it to be all about them.”

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