Shaun Marsh looks set to retain his spot in Australia's one-day side, with coach Justin Langer all but confirming his struggling Test batsmen won't be pulled out of upcoming limited-overs internationals to find red-ball form in the JLT Sheffield Shield.
Australia's Test players fly home this weekend after their heavy defeat to Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, which extended their winless run in Asia to six consecutive series stretching back to 2011.
Selectors now must juggle priorities over the next six weeks; T20 and ODI matches against Pakistan, South Africa and India, and giving their players a chance to find form in Shield cricket ahead of the Domain Test Series against India beginning in early December.
The Test batsmen who will not stay in the UAE for this week's T20 series against Pakistan – Marsh, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, skipper Tim Paine and the already-departed Matthew Renshaw – are all expected to play in the second round of the Sheffield Shield, which starts on Thursday.
But both Head and Marsh, as well as his brother Mitchell and opener Aaron Finch, are likely to miss Round 3 of the Shield when they can expect to be involved in the Gillette ODI Series against South Africa.
The elder Marsh brother, who managed just 14 runs in four innings in the UAE, scored two centuries on Australia's horror ODI tour of England earlier this year and Langer says the 35-year-old should retain his spot to face the Proteas based on that form.
"SOS has obviously had a poor (Test) series and he knows that," Langer said of Marsh. "You can see it in his face he knows he's had a poor series.
"So then you (have to) get the balancing act right as a selector.
"On merit, he has to play the one-dayers. In his last five one-day internationals for Australia, he's scored two hundreds.
"You've got to be fair and reward people for performance.
"On the flipside of that, by playing the one-dayers then he might not play Shield cricket.
"But having said all that, runs are the currency of value. Whether you're making them in T20 cricket or one-day cricket or Sheffield Shield cricket or Test cricket. The only currency of value are runs. That's just the truth of it."
Three-format players like Finch and Mitchell Marsh could conceivably play just one Shield game leading into the Indian Tests due to limited-overs duties, which finish 10 days before the first Test.
The schedule clash is also bad news for Test hopefuls like Glenn Maxwell and D'Arcy Short, who won't be able to push their case in Shield cricket until Round 5 – by which time the Test squad to play India may have already been announced – if they're picked in both ODI and T20 squads over the coming weeks.
But Langer dismissed any suggestion that potential Test players would be pulled from international duty to play Shield cricket.
"You've got to pick your best T20 side (and) you've got to pick your best one-day side," Langer said.
"If you ask the players, they want to play for Australia. They want to play international cricket, that's what they love doing. They love playing for their states but you love playing international cricket, that's what we do.
"(You've) got to pick your best T20 side … you've got to pick your best one-day side and your best Test side and that's how the selection should be."
Qantas T20 Tour of the UAE
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Mitch Marsh (vc), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, D’Arcy Short, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Starc, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
Pakistan squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Sahibzada Farhan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan Shinwari, Hassan Ali, Imad Wasim, Waqas Maqsood, Faheem Ashraf
Oct 22: Only T20 v UAE, Abu Dhabi
Oct 24: First T20, Abu Dhabi
Oct 26: Second T20, Dubai
Oct 28: Third T20, Dubai
*All matches against Pakistan start at 8pm local time, 3am the following day AEDT