The departure of Australia's Test squad for the Qantas tour of South Africa has seen a host of changes made to squads for Round 7 of the JLT Sheffield Shield, beginning on Friday.
With just 10 points separating top-ranked Queensland and last-placed South Australia on the Shield table, and just four rounds remaining, the battle for a final berth will be heating up.
Every match of the JLT Sheffield Shield will be live streamed on the Cricket Network
NSW Blues v South Australia at the SCG
Callum Ferguson will return as captain for South Australia’s crucial clash with the New South Wales Blues at the SCG.
Ferguson, South Australia’s current leading run-scorer, has recovered from a hamstring injury sustained while playing for the Sydney Thunder in BBL|07.
He was in good touch during the first half of the JLT Sheffield Shield season, scoring 541 runs at an average of 60.11 across 10 innings.
Cameron Valente has also been added in place of Chadd Sayers, who has been called into the Australian Test squad for the injured Jackson Bird.
The promising allrounder played his last first-class match in November against the Tasmanian Tigers, with second innings figures of 2-40 off 23 overs.
Captain Travis Head, wicketkeeper Alex Carey and bowlers Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa are all unavailable for selection due to commitments with Australia’s T20I tri-series squad.
Meanwhile NSW have named rookie leg-spinner Dan Fallins, 21, in their 14-player squad.
He has been included along with veteran off-spinner Will Somerville, who was the leading bowler for the Blues last season, claiming 35 wickets at an average of 23 in seven matches.
Nathan Lyon is the only player missing from the 13-man squad which traveled to Perth last week, having joined the Australian Test squad.
NSW Blues squad: Peter Nevill (c), Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Ed Cowan, Mickey Edwards, Dan Fallins, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Nic Maddinson, Kurtis Patterson, Gurinder Sandhu, Will Somerville, Charlie Stobo
West End Redbacks squad: Callum Ferguson (c), Tom Andrews, Tom Cooper, John Dalton, Jake Lehmann, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Alex Ross, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall
Tasmania v Western Australia at Blundsone Arena
Western Australia have been forced to name a host of youngsters given an astonishing 14 of their best players are unavailable due to either international duty or injury.
Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Cameron Bancroft, Jhye Richardson (all Test), Marcus Stoinis, D'Arcy Short, Ashton Agar and Andrew Tye (all T20) are all with the national team, while fast bowler Matt Kelly has also been ruled out due to back soreness, joining Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Joel Paris, Cameron Green and David Moody on the sidelines.
The 13-player squad includes batsmen Jake Carder and Josh Philippe, allrounder Clint Hinchliffe, and bowlers Matthew Hanna and Liam Guthrie.
Tasmania have made two changes, with Jackson Bird to miss with the hamstring injury that’s also ruled him out of the Qantas Tour of South Africa.
Fellow paceman Gabe Bell, who had taken 24 wickets in six matches this season, misses after fracturing his foot in last week’s clash at the Gabba.
Andrew Fekete and Hamish Kingston come into the squad for the clash at Blundstone Arena. Fekete has made one appearance at Sheffield Shield level this season, taking three wickets at the WACA, while Kingston has played two matches in Tasmania’s Toyota Futures League side this season.
Tasmanian Tigers squad: George Bailey (c), Alex Doolan, Jake Doran, Andrew Fekete, Hamish Kingston, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Sam Rainbird, Tom Rogers, Matthew Wade, Beau Webster
Western Australia squad: Ashton Turner (c), Alex Bevilaqua, Will Bosisto, Jake Carder, Hilton Cartwright, Liam Guthrie, Matthew Hanna, Clint Hinchliffe, Andrew Holder, Josh Inglis, Simon Mackin, Josh Philippe, Jonathan Wells.
Victoria v Queensland at the MCG
The my FootDr Queensland Bulls will take an unchanged squad to Melbourne for their clash with the Bushrangers at the MCG.
The Bulls went to the top of the ladder with an outright win over Tasmania at the Gabba last weekend, lifting them three points clear of second-placed NSW.
Victoria have made two changes to their squad, with Will Pucovski and Fawad Ahmed replacing Test squad members Peter Handscomb and Jon Holland.
Pucovski scored 207* and 65 in Victoria's most recent Toyota Futures League fixture against Western Australia, with Friday's game to be his first Shield outing since suffering concussion in February last year during his debut against New South Wales at the MCG.
Victoria squad: Cameron White (C), Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Travis Dean, Seb Gotch, Marcus Harris, Will Pucovski, Matthew Short, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Eamonn Vines
Queensland squad: Jimmy Peirson (c), Brendan Doggett, Luke Feldman, Charlie Hemphrey, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Lachlan Pfeffer, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Jack Wildermuth