Sydney: There has been no panic or infighting in the Australia camp during the run-up to the Ashes series despite a particularly poor run of form, according to coach Tim Nielsen.
Seven straight defeats over four months in all forms of cricket until the final one-dayer against Sri Lanka last Sunday caused consternation in Australia with the first Ashes test against England starting on November 25.
Criticism of players, selection and tactics along with reports of dissatisfaction in the camp have filled hundreds of column inches in the local media.
“As is often the case as soon as we lose a couple of games there is all sorts of talk about disharmony and infighting within the team,” Nielsen wrote in his blog on the Cricket Australia website.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth and a standard barb thrown by those outside the group searching for a reason why we are losing.
“Ultimately, we lost because we didn’t bat, bowl or field well enough ... “
The reports of infighting -- all vehemently denied by the players in public -- have centred on the leadership of Australia vice captain Michael Clarke, who is ultimately expected to succeed Ricky Ponting as skipper.
“While it has been tough, the leadership inside the group shown by Ricky and Michael has been calm and measured and at no stage was there any panic,” Nielsen added.
“We talked about how we could improve and then went about doing it ... there was no panic or in fighting I can promise you.
“This team is tough enough not to allow uneducated opinion upset it. I can guarantee that every time we turn out for Australia the team wants to win and win well.”
Nielsen said there were many positives to come out of the one-day series defeat to Sri Lanka, including returns to international cricket for experienced players like wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and bowler Peter Siddle after layoffs.
“Most important for us as a team is to ensure that we don’t panic and keep our eye firmly on the targets we have set for this summer,” he wrote.
“We now have a couple of weeks to prepare for the Ashes series, and I think all involved are looking forward to using this time to... be 100 percent right come the first test in Brisbane.”
The Australia team for the first test at the Gabba will be announced in Sydney on Monday.