Several candidates for the vacant No.6 Test batting spot will get a chance to impress for Australia A against England in Hobart next week.
Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Alex Doolan and Callum Ferguson are among the batsmen picked for the pre-Ashes showdown, in a side captained by NSW allrounder Moises Henriques.
The team has a level balance of talent from throughout the states so as not to disrupt Sheffield Shield matches going on around the country.
National selector John Inverarity said the upcoming Australia A and Shield matches would be taken into consideration for selection for the first Ashes Test in Brisbane starting on November 21.
However, Inverarity admits selectors already have a firm idea of who they want for the Gabba, with one batting position and at least one bowling spot up for grabs.
No more than two players from each state have been selected for Australia A.
“Between November 6-9 there will be seven Australian first-class teams in action,” said Inverarity.
“These 77 cricketers will be competing hard and performances in all matches will be closely monitored.
“We have struck a balance in what we think is the appropriate Australia A team to face England, while ensuring individuals have a solid preparation and chance to impress.”
Inverarity said the top six batsmen picked for Australia A were all in good form.
Khawaja lost his Test place in England, but has rebounded with a stellar domestic one-day tournament.
Marsh scored a century for Australia at No.3 back in 2011 and could come back into consideration with a big performance for the A team.
Glenn Maxwell will return from India to be Henriques’ vice captain, while Tim Paine is the wicketkeeper.
Inverarity has been impressed with the recent one-day form of George Bailey (on the tour of India) and David Warner (in the Ryobi Cup).
Both will play Sheffield Shield cricket next week, rather than for Australia A.
“The position most up for grabs (in the first Test team) is a lower-order batting position,” Inverarity said, conceding the second XI bowlers were not shaping as Test contenders.
“Leading into a series you’re wise in not giving the opposition a good look at your bowlers.
“We’ve pigeon-holed a few others who are more likely to play (in the Tests).”
Australia A: Moises Henriques (capt), Glenn Maxwell, Trent Copeland, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Callum Ferguson, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Klinger, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine