Nathan Coulter-Nile is back. And he could be an Ashes bolter
Probably the brightest point of this series from Australia's point of view has been the re-emergence of Nathan Coulter-Nile as a quality international player. After a luckless run with injury, the right-armer stepped up in the absence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, claiming 10 wickets at 25, including Virat Kohli three times. Teammate Kane Richardson believes the Western Australian is next in line outside of the 'Big Four' quicks for a Test spot, despite his lack of recent first-class cricket. If the 29-year-old can successfully get through a few JLT Sheffield Shield matches to start the season, he could well earn his first Test cap if the Big Four is hit by injury.
Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade desperately need runs
Arguably no two players have more to play for in the first three Shield rounds than Australia's incumbent Test No.6 and No.7. Maxwell and Wade did little in this series to secure their Ashes spots and will seemingly need some big scores in Shield cricket to guarantee their selection for the first Test. Both players were dropped during this series after a run of low scores and their patchy Test form means their spots in the longer form of the game are under threat as well. For Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright and Marcus Stoinis appear the biggest challengers to his spot while Wade will need to hold off pushes from Peter Nevill and Alex Carey if he wants to take the gloves at the Gabba.
Marcus Stoinis could be set for a big international summer
Another positive for Australia in this series has been the form of allrounder Marcus Stoinis, who has proven that he is more than up to international standard. The powerful right-hander showed that his memorable century against New Zealand earlier this year was far from a one-off, losing his wicket just twice and regularly standing firm in the middle of a collapse. Having returned home to Western Australia in the off-season, Stoinis could also put his name forward for the No.6 spot in the Test side if he's able to fire early in the Shield season for the Warriors.
Aaron Finch is crucial to Australia's World Cup defence
A mainstay of Australia's one-day side since his debut in 2013, Aaron Finch was surprisingly dumped at the start of this year after a string of low scores, but he's proved his worth again on this tour. Having missed the first two matches due to injury, he pushed himself to be fit for game three and peeled off scores of 124, 94 and 32 to lead an improved Australian batting performance in all three games. His chemistry with long-time opening partner David Warner is undeniable and the pair produced partnerships of 70, 231 and 66 in the final games of the series, underlining their importance to this side for their World Cup defence in 2019.
The No.4 spot remains an area of concern
Having failed to adequately replace George Bailey after his axing in January, the Aussies had high hopes that Travis Head could step up and fill the void. But the left-hander's 119 runs at 24 in this series, his first major slip-up at international level, means those plans will have to be re-assessed for the series against England in January. Peter Handscomb filled the No.4 spot in the fifth match and could be given an extended run at second drop, but he's yet to properly establish himself in the side, despite his strong first year in Test cricket. Such a crucial position, who fills the role will be one of the major selection headaches in the 18 months leading up to the next World Cup.