Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade will be on a last-ditch mission to impress Test selectors when Victoria hosts Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield starting on Monday.
Tasmania wicketkeeper Wade has averaged just 20 with the bat since his Test recall last summer and is at risk of being dropped in favour of NSW glovesman Peter Nevill.
Victoria’s Maxwell is in a better position to claim the No.6 spot for the first Test in Brisbane starting November 23 after scoring 60 and 64 against South Australia last week.
But he will nonetheless be eager to make more runs and fend off a late challenge from the likes of Western Australia’s Hilton Cartwright or South Australian bolter Jake Lehmann.
The Test squad will be named on Friday but is expected to be locked in midway through the Shield round.
Victoria has dumped veteran Cameron White from its squad in favour of youngster Seb Gotch. The Vics have made a stuttering start to their quest for a fourth consecutive Shield title. They lost to Queensland at the Gabba before playeing out a draw with the Redbacks.
Test batsman and Bushrangers skipper Peter Handscomb was forthright when asked what was needed from his side in their last full-strength outing before the Ashes. “Make more runs,” he said.
“There are good signs there and we know our bowlers are doing an unbelievable job, so it’s time for the batters to step up this game.”
Handscomb tuned up for the Ashes with a timely second-innings half-century against South Australia last week.
The classy right-hander felt he was in good touch in his return to home soil after tours of India and Bangladesh.
“It’d be good to get a little bit of time out in the middle and get used to scoring big runs again, which would be nice,” he said.
“But everything’s feeling alright, the balance feels good and my feet are moving which is the main thing.”
Tasmania is without paceman Jackson Bird who will link up with Australia’s first-choice quicks for a Brisbane training camp and is set to be named in the Ashes squad.
Victoria: Peter Handscomb (capt), Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Dan Christian, Travis Dean, Aaron Finch, Seb Gotch, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain. Tasmania: George Bailey (capt), Gabe Bell, Alex Doolan, Jake Doran, James Faulkner, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Tim Paine, Sam Rainbird, Tom Rogers, Jordan Silk, Matthew Wade, Beau Webster.