Test spots up for grabs in one-day cup
Photo Source: AP
Four Australian Test cricket spots could be on the line when the domestic one-day cup begins on Saturday in Brisbane.
Despite the tournament being in the 50-over format, it will be the last major chance for players to press their claims to Australia selectors ahead of the first Test against South Africa in Perth.
The regular positions of Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja remain under threat for the November Test, after they were dropped during the ill-fated tour of Sri Lanka.
Burns will turn out for Queensland in the competition-opener against a Cricket Australia XI on Saturday, before main rival Cameron Bancroft looks to make a statement for Western Australia against last year's runners-up, South Australia, the following day in Perth.
Bancroft almost batted his way into the Test side last summer off the back of the one-day tournament, in which he hit 414 runs at an avergage of 55.83, including a top score of 176 against the Redbacks.
Shaun Marsh is also likely to return for the second-half of the tournament from a broken finger, with he and Moises Henriques desperate to do enough to keep the spots they prized away from Burns and Khawaja in Sri Lanka.
Victorian Peter Handscomb could also enter into contention with a good tournament.
"For many years now, the domestic one-day competition has been a breeding ground for producing exceptional limited-overs cricketers for Australia," national selector Rod Marsh said.
Meanwhile, Khawaja's call up to the Australian squad for the South African one-day tour could come back to haunt him if he spends more time on the bench as a reserve than in the middle.
Australia is also desperately on the lookout for another fast bowler, as an injury crisis continues to impact on the group's stocks.
Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile are all either ruled out or considered unlikely for the summer opener, while further cover could also be required if Mitchell Starc fails to overcome a leg injury sustained in a freak training accident.
Jason Behrendorff and Joel Paris have each returned from injury for the Warriors and could have a selection advantage, given their knowledge of the WACA pitch, while Jackson Bird could consider himself a shot given he recently toured Sri Lanka.
Chadd Sayers was a glaring omission from the Redbacks' squad, given teammates Joe Mennie and Daniel Worrall will be pushing their case in South Africa.
Pat Cummins is also likely to play a limited number of matches for defending champions NSW, however it's unlikely he would be considered for the first Test given his injury history and the fact he will be managed through the tournament.
Domestic players will have just one Sheffield Shield match between the one-day final at North Sydney Oval on October 23 and the Perth Test, to press their claims to wear the baggy green at the WACA.