x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Tim Nielsen has been 'living the dream' but time to walk away

Nielsen will not reapply for his job as Australia coach following their series win in Sri Lanka.

Tim Nielsen has been "living the dream" as Australia head coach for the last four years but admits he is ready for some time away from the international set-up after standing down yesterday.

The 43 year old confirmed his departure after seeing his side draw the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo — a result which set the seal on his ninth victory in 15 Test series since replacing John Buchanan in 2007.

Nielsen decided to quit after being told he was required to reapply for his job following a review of the Australian management structure, but left with his head held high despite the indifferent form of the team during his tenure.

"Unfortunately I wasn't good enough to play cricket for Australia, so I've been living the dream. This has been the greatest job that I could do," said Nielsen.

"I'm very proud of the fact that I've been able to do it for the past four years, which I feel is a long term in international sport."

Despite boasting a winning record in Tests — and maintaining Australia's place at the top of the one-day rankings over the past four years — Nielsen has paid a heavy price for Australia's 3-1 Ashes defeat to England on home soil last winter.

That loss was the prompt for a comprehensive review of the Australia set-up, led by Don Argus, which on returning its findings last month recommended a management restructure.

Nielsen, head of selectors Andrew Hilditch and selector Greg Chappell were all high-profile victims of the changes, which call for the implementation of a five-man selection panel comprising a full-time chairman, two part-time selectors, the national captain and head coach.

Although Nielsen declined the chance to be interviewed for his redefined job, there was initial speculation that he could be offered a role elsewhere in the Cricket Australia set-up. However, he admits that is not likely to happen anytime soon.

"I'm a cricket coach, I'm a cricket person. I certainly will be looking at other opportunities and seeing what's out there," he said.

"I won't work with Cricket Australia in the short term — it's a good chance for me to have a break and for them to have a change of scene. We'll just take a breath now."

Meanwhile, Australia legend Glenn McGrath has backed Steve Rixon's credentials to take over from Nielsen ahead of next month's tour to South Africa.

Rixon is currently part of the Australian set-up, and along with fellow assistant coach Justin Langer has emerged as a leading candidate for the post.

"When I first started playing at New South Wales I worked with Steve Rixon, the ex-Australia wicketkeeper, and I think he's an incredible coach," McGrath told Sky Sports.

"His work ethic is second to none and for me to work with him early doors stood me in great stead.

"So he's a name that pops to mind, but I'm sure there will be others too."