Players on the fringe of Australia's Test squad begun their final chance to impress national selectors on Monday's opening day of the third round of the JLT Sheffield Shield.
The No.6 and No.7 spots in Australia's side for the first Magellan Ashes Test are still far from locked in and strong performances early this week could make all the difference when selectors gather on Wednesday to name their squad for the opening Test in Brisbane.
Take a look at how the leading contenders for the two vacant spots fared on day one of the Shield action.
Glenn Maxwell, 4 v Tasmania
Having returned to form with a pair of half-centuries last week, Test incumbent Maxwell faced just nine balls before edging behind in the middle of an impressive spell from Tassie quick Gabe Bell (4-22). On Sunday, Maxwell got the backing of both Shane Warne and Michael Slater to hold onto his spot at No.6, but a failure today, the presence of WA rival Hilton Cartwright in the discussion and the hot form of Cameron Bancroft in Perth means the Victorian will be desperate for a big score in the second innings to secure a spot.
Hilton Cartwright, 35 v South Australia
After former Test skipper Ricky Ponting told cricket.com.au he believed Cartwright is the frontrunner for the No.6 spot, the right-hander squandered a good start against the Redbacks at the WACA Ground. Cartwright hit five fours and faced 76 balls before Chadd Sayers got one through his defences and he too will be chasing a big score in the second innings in order to convince selectors he's worth a chance.
Cameron Bancroft, 161no v South Australia
It may have come too late, but Bancroft is making a serious push to be a last-minute inclusion for the first Test. Selectors have called for Test hopefuls to stand up under pressure in the early Shield rounds and Bancroft, a keeper-batsman for the Warriors, has done just that in his past two outings to put his hand up for either the No.6 and No.7 position. After his marathon performances against NSW last week, which earned high praise from selector Mark Waugh, the right-hander brought up his 11th first-class century on Monday and pushed on to be unbeaten at stumps, ensuring he will be in the discussion when selectors meet on Wednesday.
George Bailey, 106 v Victoria
It seems unlikely it'll lead to a Test recall in Brisbane, but George Bailey sent a reminder of his quality with a backs-to-the-wall century at the MCG as his Tasmanian teammates again faultered with the bat. Bailey was one of only two Tassie batsmen to score more than 10 on Monday, standing firm amid the carnage like he's done for most of the season so far. Only today he pushed on to a massive score and it's worth remembering that his record in Ashes cricket - five wins from five Tests - is as good as it gets.
Matthew Wade, 5 & one catch v Victoria
Australia's incumbent keeper, Wade appears to be in serious danger of losing his spot after another low score on Monday. The left-hander chopped a pull shot onto his stumps against Peter Siddle and his Shield scores so far this season - 1, 6, 9, 17 and 5 - have left him vulnerable to the axe. His keeping has certainly improved in recent years, but his lack of runs at international and domestic level this year has opened the door for Peter Nevill to regain his spot.
Peter Nevill, four catches v Queensland
Nevill could all but secure a Test return with a big score on Tuesday, and he boosted his case with a sharp performance behind the stumps in Brisbane on Monday. He took an impressive diving catch to remove Joe Burns early on and pocketed four catches in all as the Bulls were bowled out for just 183. And all eyes will be on him when it comes to his time to bat in NSW's first innings, with a Test return seemingly within his grasp.
And a quick word on ...
Matthew Renshaw, 16 v NSW
Incumbent opener Renshaw is expected to hold onto his spot for the first Test despite falling for just 16 against NSW on Monday, his fifth sub-20 score from five innings so far in the Shield. Selector Mark Waugh has backed the Queenslander to pull himself out of his current slump but there's no doubt the tall left-hander has been short of runs and he will be desperate to find form - and some confidence - when the Bulls bat again. And with WA opener Bancroft in fine form, Renshaw will need runs early in the Ashes series to hold onto his spot.
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