The Test series success over South Africa is a measure of the quality of his team both on and off the field, according to Tim Nielsen, the Australian coach. With the No 1 Test ranking on the line and with South Africa having won the recent series in Australia 2-1, the pressure was on an inexperienced Australia team to wrest the momentum back in this series.
They have done that superbly, winning both Tests comprehensively and delighting the coach, who paid tribute to the players and the backroom staff. "It's a tremendous feeling, we are feeling very happy with ourselves and the way we went about playing the game over the past couple of weeks," Nielsen said. "It's been a real success for all of us as a team, the players who have played so well and the support staff, which is pleasing to us all, after not having the success we would have liked against South Africa [in Australia] earlier this year."
This series could likely be regarded as a turning point for the Australian team, who rolled the dice by selecting three debutants in the first Test in Johannesburg. The rewards have been spectacular with Marcus North and Phillip Hughes shining with the bat and Ben Hilfenhaus doing more than his bit with the ball. "It's great to see so many young players coming into Test cricket and having the courage and the confidence to stand up and perform so well," Nielsen said.
Nielsen admitted Australia also took a risk when Ricky Ponting decided to bat in the first Test at the New Wanderers on a pitch that offered plenty of assistance for the bowlers. He said that courageous decision set the standard for the rest of the series. "I suppose the highlights for me have been winning the toss in Jo'burg and having the courage to bat on what was a bit of a green top, but Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting were outstanding that afternoon, a partnership of 113 took the momentum away from South Africa," he said.
Nielsen said that the decision to bat first in the second Test was a much easier one, and reaped fantastic rewards when Hughes was able to score his first Test century. "We decided to bat, we thought it would be hard work batting last on that wicket," he said. * PA Sport