Australia's first Test squad takes shape

Likely four quicks in Australia's first Ashes Test squad to train together in Brisbane next week

Australia have all but confirmed the four fast bowlers that will feature in their squad for the first Test Magellan Ashes Test.

NSW pacemen Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood along with Tasmania seamer Jackson Bird will all sit out the third round of the JLT Sheffield Shield, which gets underway Monday, Cricket Australia confirms today.

The quartet will instead train together at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane as they prepare for the first Test against England at the Gabba beginning November 23.

Starc and Cummins, who have sent down 72.5 and 65 overs in the opening two Shield rounds respectively, had originally been expected to miss the Blues' final match before the Ashes as part of a carefully-crafted plan to have them primed for the series-opener.

He's done it again! Starc takes second hat-trick

But Hazlewood only returned to top-flight action in the Blues' four-day clash with Western Australia this week, getting through 33 overs in a successful return from the side strain he suffered on Australia's Qantas Tour of Bangladesh in August. 

The paceman had originally outlined his plan was to also play in NSW's match against Queensland next week and the decision to remove him was made in consultation with coaching staff, selectors and Hazlewood himself.

It means the 171-run victory over the Warriors and a one-day match for his NSW Premier Cricket side St George last month will be Hazlewood's only match practice ahead of the first Test.

Hazlewood bags both Marsh brothers and Cartwright

While the squad for the first Test isn't expected to be named until next week, Bird's withdrawal from the Tigers' match against Victoria at the MCG next week is a telling signal he's won the final fast-bowling spot in the squad ahead of the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Siddle and Chadd Sayers.

Australia's likely first Test attack of Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, along with Test skipper Steve Smith, had a dress rehearsal for the main event this summer in NSW's win victory over the Warriors at Hurstville Oval.

Smith said he was happy with how the bowlers fared in the star-studded clash, with spearhead Starc creating history by claiming hat-tricks in both WA innings.

"I thought he bowled like an absolute genius, he's a superstar,' Smith said of the left-armer.

"Then Starcy I think he's probably taken a little bit more time to get going and get some rhythm. But at the back end of (day four) he showed why he's world class.

"Patty Cummins has had a couple of good games as well so they're up and going and bowling really well so that is positive signs for us."

Smith hits pre-Ashes form with Shield century

Smith had no qualms about Cummins and Starc being rested from the Blues' Shield game against the Bulls in Brisbane next week.

"They'll probably have little bowls in the nets and work on their batting up in Brisbane, but I think they're firing and fresh and ready to go," he said.

With off-spinner Nathan Lyon - who is expected to feature for NSW next week - a lock for the first Test, Bird would appear the likely 12th man candidate for the first Test.

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21