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Nielsen wants Australia to enjoy Ashes finale

LONDON, August 18- Australia coach Tim Nielsen wants his players to have "fun" when the decisive fifth Ashes Test against England gets underway at the Oval here on Thursday.
TIM_NIELSEN_For several members of Nielsen’s team this promises to be the biggest match of their career, with the series all square at 1-1 and Australia needing just a draw to retain the Ashes.

But Nielsen, while recognising the enormity of the occasion, wants his players to savour the experience – both now and in the future too.

"I think the most important thing from our perspective is we don’t run away from the fact it is a big game," he told reporters at the Oval here on Monday.

"This is fun, this is why you play the highest level of sport for.

"Every Test match means a lot but when you get to special days and special moments like these, we’re looking to embrace it and really have some fun and put on the best show for the English public."

Nielsen added: "For us at home it’s an AFL (Australian Rules) Grand Final. You talk about the lead-up and walking out onto the ground with the expectation and the crowd and the tingles going down your spine.

"Our challenge is to make sure, while we don’t make it bigger than it is, we enjoy that. You don’t get too many opportunities to play in a big game like this too often.

"I would love to be able to talk to players in 10 years’ time and say how much fun was that week we had at the Oval. We went into the series 1-1 and you could not have had a bigger moment and gee we had some fun in that week.

"These are the sort of games you remember in your career. Great friendships and great mateship come out of it because you’ve all experienced it together. It’s a special time, it’s good fun."

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England are set to give Jonathan Trott a Test debut after the South Africa born batsman was drafted in as a replacement for the dropped Ravi Bopara, who has been struggling for runs.

Trott has been scoring heavily for Warwickshire this season but how he performs at Test level remains unknown.

"He’s obviously in fine form," said Nielsen. "The challenge will be for him to take his game to a new level against as good a quality opposition as he has played against."

While Trott contemplates his first Test, it is set to be the last for injury-prone England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

Flintoff was controversially left out of the fourth Test because the England selectors feared his longstanding right knee problem meant he would not see out the game.

But, in his absence, Australia thrashed England by an innings and 80 runs at Headingley to level the series.

However, Flintoff – who before bowling England to victory in the second Test at Lord’s announced he would retire from the five-day game at the end of this series – is now set for an emotional farewell.

"If it’s not him, I’m sure it will be someone else who stands up and has a real go for England to try to turn the game in their favour," said Nielsen.

"He brings a lot to the table in terms of all-round ability and experience.

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"He’s probably got the added pressure that it is his last Test match. He’s a world-class player. We need to make sure we’re prepared to counter his influence and make sure that if we get on top of him, we keep it that way."

Despite a thumping win at Headingley, Nielsen said Australia could make changes to their side.

"It’s a nice position to be in. We’ll have a look at the wicket over the next few days and once we get a feel on it we’ll make a decision."

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