Adam Voges and Nathan Lyon have finished the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup as Australia's best-performed Test incumbents with just four days remaining before the squad for the Commonwealth Bank series opener against South Africa is named.
Last year's Matador Cup was dominated by Australia's red-ball stars – with a full contingent of internationals taking part due to the cancelled Test tour of Bangladesh – but this time a host of up-and-comers alongside some former Australian representatives topped the statistics.
Of those involved with Australia's Test tour of Sri Lanka who played in the Matador Cup, Voges emerged as the best-performed batsman, scoring 301 runs at 75.25 to finish sixth on the overall runs table.
Quick single: Matador Cup team of the tournament
Lyon had taken just four wickets in his first six appearances in the tournament before Sunday’s final, but he produced a record-breaking performance when it mattered most, claiming 4-10 against Queensland to finish just outside the top 10 wicket-takers.
Others, including Victoria fast bowler Peter Siddle and NSW quick Pat Cummins, made successful returns from injury to put their hands up for international returns this summer.
Australia’s Test aspirants have one last opportunity to push their case in the Sheffield Shield ahead of the opening Test of the summer against South Africa at the WACA Ground starting on November 3.
Beginning on Tuesday, the first round of the first-class season will feature three day-night matches in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth, with the first Test squad to be named on day four.
Here’s a look at how Australia’s stars and Test hopefuls fared in the Matador Cup:
Top 10 run scorers
Top 10 wicket takers
Usman Khawaja (Qld)
M: 2 | Runs: 73 | Ave: 36.50 | SR: 92.40 | HS: 38 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 0
Khawaja played just two matches for the Bulls after his return from the ODI tour of South Africa, but was unable to make a major impact in either appearance. He scored 38 against Victoria on his return and while he was handed a life early in the final – put down by Trent Copeland at slip on 15 – he only added 20 more runs before falling victim to Nathan Lyon.
Joe Burns (Qld)
M: 7 | Runs: 217 | Ave: 36.16 | SR: 83.14 | HS: 78no | 100s: 0 | 50s: 1
After a lean run in Sri Lanka that ended in Burns being dropped for the third Test, the Queenslander started his tournament with 42 against the CA XI and scored an unbeaten 78 against WA two matches later, but finished his tournament with scores of 20, 11, 17 and 18.
Adam Voges (WA)
M: 6 | Runs: 301 | Ave: 75.25 | SR: 93.18 | HS: 89no | 100s: 0 | 50s: 4
Voges also experienced a rough trot in Sri Lanka, but the veteran has removed any doubt about his spot in Australia's middle order for the start of the home summer with a consistent and polished Matador Cup campaign. The right-hander was dismissed for less than 50 just once in six innings and his unbeaten 89 against Tasmania was a masterclass in how to complete a tricky run chase. While his star-studded WA side was unable to reach the finals for the second year in a row, Voges will enter the Test summer in strong form.
Shaun Marsh (WA)
M: 2 | Runs: 85 | Ave: 42.50 | SR: 95.50 | HS: 70 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 1
Marsh continued his good form from Sri Lanka with a fine 70 against Tasmania in the Warriors' second match, but his hopes of remaining in the Test XI were thrown into disarray when he suffered a low grade hamstring tear while batting against the Tigers.
Mitchell Marsh (WA)
M: 2 | Runs: 4 | Ave: 2.00 | SR: 57.14 | HS: 3 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 0 | W: 0 | Ave: n/a | Econ: 6.00 | BBI: --
Marsh made just two appearances for Western Australia upon his return from South Africa, dismissed for three against the CA XI in a rain-affected 15-overs-a-side affair, before falling for one in the Warriors' must-win clash with NSW.
Moises Henriques (NSW)
M: 8 | Runs: 414 | Ave: 69.00 | SR: 95.39 | HS: 164no | 100s: 1 | 50s: 2 | W: 4 | Ave: 44.25 | Econ: 4.42 | BBI: 2-41
NSW Blues captain Moises Henriques, one of two incumbent Test allrounders alongside Mitchell Marsh, was in red-hot form throughout the tournament.
He blasted a career-best 164no against the improving Cricket Australia XI and backed it up with 56 against Tasmania two days later, while also scoring a crucial 85 against Queensland in the final.
Peter Nevill (NSW)
M: 8 | Runs: 101 | Ave: 25.25 | SR: 106.31 | HS: 30 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 0
Australia's gloveman had a quiet Matador Cup with the bat, scoring his tournament-high 30 in NSW's first match against the CA XI, while he took 14 catches behind the stumps.
But there's no doubt about Nevill's spot in Australia's XI for the first Test and former Australia captain Mark Taylor told cricket.com.au's The Unplayable Podcast he believes the 'keeper is one of just five Test incumbents assured of their spot at the WACA.
Nathan Lyon (NSW)
M: 7 | W: 8 | Ave: 33.25 | Econ: 4.66 | BBI: 4-10
Lyon took just four wickets in his first six matches of the tournament and was left out of the Blues' XI for the semi-final. Recalled for the final, he tore through the Bulls' batsmen to take 4-10 from 10 superb overs and should be filled with confidence for the first Test.
Josh Hazlewood (NSW)
M: 3 | W: 4 | Ave: 17 | Econ: 3.51 | BBI: 2-30
After sitting out the one-day series in South Africa, Hazlewood's bowling workloads were carefully managed through the tournament, making just three appearances for the Blues and sitting out the final against Queensland. But the quick is set to play in NSW's Sheffield Shield match starting Tuesday.
Jackson Bird (Tas)
M: 6 | W: 4 | Ave: 71.25 | Econ: 5.64 | BBI: 1-32
Tasmania paceman Jackson Bird is Australia's incumbent third seamer, having donned the Baggy Green the last time Australia employed a trio of specialist speedsters, against New Zealand in February. He appears locked in a battle with returning paceman Peter Siddle for the third spot alongside Hazlewood and Starc at the WACA.
Jon Holland (Vic)
M: 7 | W: 7 | Ave: 39.85 | Econ: 5.47 | BBI: 3-58
Holland featured in all seven matches for Victoria and finished the tournament with seven scalps, but it's unlikely the left-arm orthodox tweaker will retain his place with Australia traditionally playing only one spinner on home soil.
THE COMEBACK KIDS
Peter Siddle (Vic)
M: 3 | W: 3 | Ave: 34.33 | Econ: 3.67 | BBI: 1-19
Siddle showed strong form in the three matches he played in the Matador Cup, his first hit-out since overcoming ankle and back injuries during the winter.
The 31-year-old conceded during the tournament that he is unlikely to be ready in time for the first of three Tests against the Proteas, starting on November 3, but will have a chance to prove his fitness and push his case in Victoria's Sheffield Shield clash against Tasmania at the MCG.
Patrick Cummins (NSW Blues)
M: 6 | W: 14 | Ave: 18.60 | Econ: 4.92 | BBI: 4-26
The feel-good story of the tournament, the 23-year-old speedster's comeback from a serious back injury is exciting news for both New South Wales and Australian cricket. After spending 12 months on the sidelines, a situation he knows all too well after a luckless run with injury, Cummins responded with 14 wickets in six matches as his return was carefully managed by the Blues and Cricket Australia. The right-armer bowled with impressive pace, handy movement and good rhythm throughout the tournament and now has his eye on some white-ball internationals this summer, while a return to the Sheffield Shield and ultimately Test cricket is well within reach if his current form and fitness persist.
THE MAIN CONTENDER
Cameron Bancroft (WA)
M: 6 | Runs: 177 | Ave: 44.25 | SR: 96.17 | HS: 65no | 100s: 0 | 50s: 2
WA batsman Bancroft didn't set the world alight during the Matador Cup, but did score two fine half-centuries. However, the 23-year-old has impressed plenty of people with his talent and has everyone from Steve Waugh to Josh Hazlewood tipping him to don the Baggy green in the not-too-distant future.
MISSING IN ACTION
After returning from Australia's ODI tour of South Africa, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were both rested and did not return to Matador Cup duties for NSW.
Paceman Mitchell Starc was also absent, continuing his recovery from a horror leg injury – although he has since confirmed he is fit and ready for the first Test. WA quick Nathan Coulter-Nile is sidelined indefinitely with a lumbar bone stress injury and NSW spinner Steve O'Keefe's terrible luck with injuries has continued, the left-armer ruled out of the Matador Cup with a finger injury.