Axe hangs over Nielsen as CA schedules Ashes autopsy

Sunday, January 9, 2011

MELBOURNE - The Cricket Australia board will meet in Melbourne on February 8 to discuss a range of issues that have exploded in wake of the humbling 3-1 series defeat.

The meeting is a regular fixture on the CA board’s calendar, one official said, adding that “there will be plenty to say” this time.

The board will want detailed answers from CA management and coaches on Australia’s dramatic slide from first to fifth on the Test rankings within two years.

Sources last night claimed there had also been agitation and, in some cases, bewilderment over the comments made by national selection chairman Andrew Hilditch on Friday.

Despite what appears to be an incoherent selection philosophy, Hilditch said of his four-man panel: “I think we’ve done a very good job as a selection panel.”

The Sun-Herald revealed last month CA would conduct a post-Ashes review, with Hilditch and his odd selection decisions having already sparked debate.

The demise of spinner Nathan Hauritz and the handling of fast bowler Doug Bollinger - both were rated by Hilditch as the best in their field just weeks before the Ashes - continue to rankle in some circles, while the future of opener Phillip Hughes, and his unconventional technique, have also been questioned.

Hilditch, whose contract expires after the World Cup in April, faces a fight to stay on.

There is strong support for CA’s first full-time selector, Greg Chappell, to take over.

Nielsen is also under immense pressure, having presided over two Ashes defeats, two Test series defeats in India and Australia’s first series defeat against South Africa in the post-apartheid era.

The former South Australian wicketkeeper had been handed a new three-year contract on the eve of the Ashes as part of CA’s decision to show confidence in the team. But some leading officials admit they may have made the wrong call.

“If contracts need to be paid out to get the right outcome, then so be it,” one high-ranking official said.

Nielsen said: “I expect us all to be looked at, and talked to, in the review. The planning was there, it was just our inability as a group to do what we wanted with bat and ball.”

Batting coach Justin Langer will not escape scrutiny, and bowling coach Troy Cooley, whose methods had already been questioned at board level, will depart after the World Cup to take on the crucial role developing youth as coach at Brisbane’s Centre of Excellence.

Another issue set to be raised next month is the escalating amount of money spent on international players, their development and support structures. There is concern not enough revenue is going to the states and their pathway programs. (ANI)

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