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Nielsen talks up in-form Ferguson

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Callum Ferguson

Callum Ferguson, who is in contention for the first Ashes Test, preserves his wicket during a fine 129 against Western Australia

Australia national coach Tim Nielsen claims batsman Callum Ferguson has a “big chance” of playing in the first Ashes Test.

Ferguson made 129 from 143 balls for South Australia in their Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia in Adelaide to strengthen his claim for a Test spot.

Ferguson's impressive form has increased the pressure on Mike Hussey and Marcus North, both of whom have failed to shine so far in the game amid criticism of their recent international performances.

Nielsen revealed Ferguson was one of a handful of young players in contention for the first Test in Brisbane, beginning on November 25.

"I think he's a big chance, runs do the talking don't they?" he said. "He's gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years. He's come back from injury and made runs whenever he's been given the opportunity.

"All he can keep doing is making sure that whenever the opportunity comes he puts his best foot forward and gets runs.

"There's plenty of pressure on spots and plenty for the selectors to think about."

Hussey was dismissed first ball and North fell for 10 in the first innings, but Nielsen said they would be given every chance to prove their worth.

Both are likely to bat tomorrow in the second innings on the final day of the game between England’s first two warm-up opponents.

"It'd be nice for (Hussey) to get some runs, but we can't panic too much," Nielsen added.

"The thing for ‘Huss’ would be to get a couple of really big scores to confirm in his mind that he's back in form.

"When North goes back to the domestic level he plays well. The challenge for us and for him is to show he can be consistent at that top level."

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