Melbourne: Impressed by the Australian team's dominance of India in the ongoing Test series, former national coach Tim Nielsen said the side could regain the top spot in world cricket within 12 months.
Nielsen had to step down after England crushed Australia 3-1 in the last Ashes series and South African Mickey Arthur replaced him. Australia have bounced back strongly after that and currently lead a four-match Test series against India 3-0.
Nielsen said Arthur has brought some positive changes in the side and the selectors too have done a good job by blooding youngsters in the side.
"I am sure a change of voice has been positive, a different perspective. Mickey has had the challenge of having new players come into the side," said Nielsen, referring to openers David Warner and Ed Cowan and pacers James Pattinson and Pat Cummins.
"There is a genuine enthusiasm and want from some blokes to make their mark. Change is never a negative thing and the selectors have done a good job to pick the young players who have been on the horizon," Nielsen said.
He also said the top team tag is well within Australia's reach.
"We were never that far away. We got beaten by a England who were an excellent cricket side last year. It didn't mean we are crap. Australia could be the No.1 Test side in 12 months," Nielsen was quoted as saying by 'Daily Telegraph'.
"We knock over West Indies, then South Africa and have every reason to go to the Ashes as contenders to the throne," he said.
Nielsen said the pace duo of Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus has improved immensely.
"The biggest improvement has come from Siddle and Hilfy who have had the courage and willingness to pitch the ball up," noted Nielsen.
Nielsen had a very successful stint as Australia coach as he presided over nine Test series wins in 15 and 19 triumphs out of 25 one-day series after replacing John Buchanan in 2007 before being forced to resign.
Nielsen also advised Australia to not take the foot of the pedal and go all out against India in the Adelaide Test.
"I hope they continue their momentum and win inside three days in Adelaide. There is definitely potential for a 4-0 sweep. Australia has got them under real mental pressure and a game hold over them."
"You give up a little bit and all of a sudden they can come back. I expect the India players need to make some decisions how hard they are willing to fight in Adelaide," he said.