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May 29, 2008
West Indies' fighting performance in the first Test has convinced Australia's coach Tim Nielsen that his opponents are on the way up the world rankings. Currently placed at No. 8, West Indies battled with Australia over the opening four days in Jamaica before folding in the 95-run loss.
"They could definitely be up in the middle rungs and fighting for a top three or four spot with the quality of player and the natural talent they've got in their team," Nielsen told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We kept saying the whole way through the game that our challenge was not to have fits and spurts, but to do it as well as we possibly can for five days. I think that was the difference in the end."
Nielsen warned West Indies more was needed than relying on natural ability. "Test cricket is definitely about talent ... but in the end it is the ability to execute your skills and reproduce them over and over again," he said. "That's probably the difference in the two sides at the moment. If the Windies can do that, they'll definitely jump up the ladder."
The below-par performances of Mitchell Johnson and Stuart MacGill in the first Test did not concern Nielsen. MacGill picked up four wickets for the game while Johnson was out-bowled by Stuart Clark and Brett Lee.
"While Mitch didn't get the figures as such, I wasn't too worried about his performance," Nielsen said. Nielsen believed MacGill improved as the game wore on, despite his inability to make any middle-order breakthroughs on the final day.
"He probably rolled in and out of his rhythm a little bit in this game," Nielsen told AAP. "He probably didn't have a real consistent patch where he bowled as he'd like for a session.
"But I thought there were some pretty pleasing signs at the end where he was able to rip the ball past the bat a few more times. Considering he hasn't played a hell of a lot of cricket, I expect him to get better and better as the series goes on." MacGill will have another chance in the second Test in Antigua from Friday.
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