The upcoming round of Sheffield Shield games might hold a little more importance than most.
The majority of Australia’s 14-man Test squad will be in action for their respective states, as a final outing before the series opener against India in Adelaide next week.
And there’s still spots up for grabs in the Australian side that could be answered in the domestic competition.
Round 5 of the Shield kicks off on Tuesday around the country, and here’s who will be playing for a baggy green.
Every Test, ODI, T20I, and BBL match live. SIGN UP NOW!
TASMANIA v SOUTH AUSTRALIA at Blundstone Arena
Travis Head is the incumbent in the middle order for the Australian Test team but he’s got a fight on his hands to retain the spot.
Head is locked in a battle with Victorian batsman Peter Handscomb and the final decision could come down to how the pair go in this Shield round.
Head scored a 72 and a 36 against Pakistan in the UAE but is far from a certainty to remain in the side against India.
He scored an 87 in his last Shield outing against Western Australia but will need another score against Tasmania to ensure his selection.
Australian captain Tim Paine will have the perfect view of Head’s innings in Hobart – from behind the stumps.
Paine’s spot in the Test side is locked in but he’ll be keen to spend some time in the middle against the red ball if he gets the chance.
QUEENSLAND v VICTORIA at The Gabba
This game is the most intriguing of the Shield round in terms of implications for the Test team next week.
Peter Handscomb could well play himself into a baggy green if he can put a score on Queensland. He’s fighting it out with Travis Head for Australia’s middle order spot.
Handscomb hasn’t played a Test since March but is in the mix to be recalled. He already has one Shield century to his name this season, and another could cement his spot.
Then there’s his Victorian teammate Aaron Finch. Finch is basically guaranteed a spot in Australia’s batting line-up, and it should be in the top two.
But Victoria is insisting on playing him in the middle order, while riled Test great Shane Warne.
Finch’s form in limited overs cricket over the past month has been uninspiring, and he’ll be keen to get stuck into the red ball and spend some time at the crease.
Marcus Harris will open the batting for the Vics, and he will probably do the same for Australia next week when he dons his first baggy green. Harris has been in stellar touch in the Sheffield Shield this season and it’s been rewarded.
Usman Khawaja is the other top-order batsman in action at The Gabba. It will be between he, Harris, and Finch as to who opens for Australia in Adelaide. It is Khawaja’s first match since returning from the UAE injured.
Victorian quicks Peter Siddle and Chris Tremain are also in Australia’s Test squad, but are unlikely to feature in the first match.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA v NSW at Perth Stadium
NSW’s all-star pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood will not feature in this match, as they rest ahead of the Test opener.
But their teammate Nathan Lyon will be in action in Perth. And he will be bowling to a couple of his Test teammates.
Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh will be in action for Western Australia as their final outing before the Adelaide Test next week.
Shaun Marsh has been in hot form of late, scoring a Shield ton recently as well as an ODI century.