Unlikely batting hero Nathan Coulter-Nile won't be surprised if he is dropped by Australia for its next World Cup clash against India despite his match-winning innings against the West Indies.
Reigning champion Australia was in dire straits at 38 for four at Trent Bridge on Thursday after a top-order slump against the West Indies fast bowlers.
But Coulter-Nile made a career-best 92 — the highest score by a World Cup number eight batsman or lower — and also shared a century stand with star batsman Steve Smith as Australia recovered to 288 all out.
That proved enough as Australia, with fast bowler Mitchell Starc taking five wickets, won by 15 runs.
MATCH REPORT: Australia vs West Indies
But, for the second match in a row, after Australia's opening win against Afghanistan, paceman Coulter-Nile went wicketless, with the 31-year-old’s 10 overs on Thursday costing 70 runs.
Asked if he felt he had nailed down his place ahead of Sunday's clash with India, Coulter-Nile told reporters: “No, I took none for 70. I'm not in the team to make runs, hopefully the top order does that, so I wouldn't be surprised if I got dropped for the next game.”
But the Western Australian said he relished the uncertainty.
“I actually like it. I think it's good to have competition and it wouldn't be good if we had no one pushing you trying to get better so again I love it,” he added.
Asked what his chats in the middle with the experienced Smith had been about, Coulter-Nile said: “He was just trying to keep me level-headed, just giving me the confidence to play my shots, telling me what he thought they were going to do and where the runs were going to come.”
But Coulter-Nile, whose 60-ball innings featuring eight fours and four sixes, insisted he did not feel 'in' until late in his highest score in senior cricket.
“The only time I looked up and I thought 'Jeez' was when I was on about 90, I think. Then I started thinking about it,” he said.
“I broke my bat one of the shots, I didn't want to change it, maybe I should have done that. I didn't think about the century. I just thought 'jeez that's a lot of runs'.
“It was a pull shot off Sheldon Cottrell, it actually hit the middle but split down the bottom, I didn't want to swap it.”
Coulter-Nile's career has been blighted by back problems in recent years but he said that one benefit of being unable to bowl was that it had allowed him time to work on his batting with Western Australia opener Liam Davis.
“I have to give him 100 per cent of the credit,” said Coulter-Nile. “He takes time out, doesn't take anything off me.
“He's not a 'cricket tragic' so for him to come and help me like that, I really appreciate it. In all honesty I owe him everything for my batting.
“Last two years 'stresses' (stress fractures) it's all I could really do, bat.”