The Sydney Thunder have received a massive injection of talent on the eve of their last-ditch push to secure a KFC BBL finals spot, with three Australian Test players cleared to be added to their playing list.
Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja and Kurtis Patterson have all been allowed to return to the Thunder and be available for the club's final regular season game, against the Hobart Hurricanes on Saturday, which the Thunder must win to play in the finals.
And in a fortuitous boost for the Thunder, that match will also be played at Manuka Oval, the scene of Test centuries for Patterson and Khawaja and where Cummins collected the player-of-the-series award after Australia's drubbing of Sri Lanka.
Every player that featured in Australia's 2-0 Test series win against Sri Lanka – with the exception of fast bowler Jhye Richardson – has been cleared to re-join their Big Bash teams for the rest of the tournament, with six clubs still in contention for finals spot.
Other notable beneficiaries for the BBL finals are the Melbourne Renegades, who will welcome back opener Marcus Harris, and the Sydney Sixers, who will be boosted by the availability of Test spinner Nathan Lyon.
Fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who is uncontracted, will join Richardson on the sidelines. The young Western Australia fast bowler has been restricted with his Perth Scorchers side out of finals contention and the potential of a hefty winter workload after his impressive introduction to Test cricket.
Australia's next international engagement is a limited overs tour of India, but players named in that squad will be available for the remainder of the Big Bash season, including the final on February 17.
Australia's squad for the two-T20 and five-ODI tour of India will depart the following day.
After the Big Bash, attention domestically will turn to the JLT Sheffield Shield, with all states in action when play resumes on February 23.
Below is a player-by-player run down of what's next for Australia's Test XI.
Joe Burns: Fresh from his career-best 180 that set up Australia's victory in Canberra, Burns will return to the Brisbane Heat where he can expect to slot straight back into the starting XI for their pivotal match against the Stars on Friday night. Brisbane need a win – and other results to go their way – or it is season over and attention turns back to the Shield.
Marcus Harris: The Victorian was one of the few batters to miss out against Sri Lanka and he might have some frustration to release as he returns to the Melbourne Renegades for their finals campaign. A home semi-final is still up for grabs for the Melbourne club so there's plenty to play for as he rejoins Aaron Finch at the top of the order for their game against the Hurricanes on Thursday.
Usman Khawaja: The left-hander enjoyed a timely return to form in Canberra after a difficult summer and the Thunder will no doubt be ecstatic to welcome him back ahead of Saturday's pivotal clash against the Hurricanes.
Marnus Labuschagne: The leg-spinning allrounder will head back to Queensland, but he's not been an integral part of the Brisbane Heat's BBL|08 campaign, and it's uncertain if he’ll play in their final regular season game on Friday night. He will, however, have February 23 marked in his diary when Queensland resume their Shield season against Victoria at Junction Oval.
Travis Head: Fresh from a maiden Test century, Travis Head is set to return to the Adelaide Strikers for their final game of BBL|08 on Saturday afternoon. Head is sure to get a rousing reception from the Adelaide home crowd, but sadly for the Strikers their below-par season means the match is a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Kurtis Patterson: Perhaps the closest to a red-ball specialist of all the batters in the Test top six, Kurtis Patterson has been 'next man in' for the Sydney Thunder all season. But his stunning Test century may just see him force his way into the Thunder side for their final regular season game. If not, given the rich vein of form he's been in, the NSW Blues will be perfectly fine with him focusing on the red ball for the rest of the Shield season.
Tim Paine: Australia's captain is free to rejoin the Hobart Hurricanes as they eye a home semi-final, but is potentially more likely to enjoy some well-earned R&R after a busy summer. The Cane Train has been motoring along at the top of the BBL ladder without the Test skipper, and the 34-year-old recently revealed he slept for two days straight after the India Test series. With a young family at home, and hectic winter coming up, nobody would begrudge him some family time.
Patrick Cummins: As if the returns of Khawaja and Patterson were not enough, Pat Cummins has been cleared to turn out for a Thunder side that could give the finals a real shake – if they make it. Cummins is the most in-form player in the country right now, but the Thunder need to win their final match and hope the Melbourne Stars slip up.
Mitchell Starc: The left-arm speedster made a welcome return to form in the final Test but his hefty international workload meant he did not take up a BBL deal with any club for BBL|08. A long-time Sydney Sixers player, he'll be cheering on from the sidelines as he enjoys some time with wife Alyssa Healy before their respective hectic winter schedules.
Nathan Lyon: Unlike Starc, Lyon does still have an active contract with the Sixers and can expect to be in magenta for the club's Big Bash finals campaign. The Sixers are not in action again until Sunday's MCG showdown with the Melbourne Stars, where they could be vying for a home semi-final.
Jhye Richardson: The young tearaway burst onto the scene when drafted into the Test team to replace Josh Hazlewood. He's been a standout bowler for the Perth Scorchers but with that club out of the running for the Big Bash Finals, Richardson will instead rest up ahead of the ODI tours of India and the UAE at the back end of this month as he eyes spots in both the World Cup and Ashes campaigns.