Who took their chance to impress in the Shield before the Ashes?

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For Australia's aspiring Test cricketers, it's coming down to the wire — they have to make an impression, and they have to make it now.

The first Test at the Gabba is just 10 days away, and for the players whose spots are under threat and the ones who hope to replace them in the first XI for the Ashes opener, this round of the Sheffield Shield is the last chance to make their mark.


Once again, the advantage on day one was largely with the bowlers, as contenders fell cheaply left, right and centre.

The match in the west, however, produced some intriguing batting that could yet lead to some late inclusions.

Let's look at the performances of the players still in the mix for the Gabba.

Khawaja cashes in again, but Renshaw still in strife

Queensland's Usman Khawaja plays a shot as NSW wicketkeeper Peter Nevill looks on.

Usman Khawaja has already most likely solidified his spot in the order with a timely century against Victoria late last month, but it won't hurt his chances that on a day when the bowlers were in the ascendancy, the left-hander was by far the top-scorer for the Bulls against NSW.

With Trent Copeland and Doug Bollinger chiming in with three wickets each, Khawaja played the anchor role with 78 off 192 balls — the next highest score in Queensland's total of 183 all out was Jack Wildermuth with 27.

Unfortunately, however, we do have to talk about the top of the Australian order — Matt Renshaw to be precise.

Renshaw debuted for Australia against South Africa in Adelaide a little under a year ago — his Test average of 36.64 has been OK, but the hope was that with a season of Tests under his belt that he would push on.

Before today in the Shield, however, he had made only 53 runs from four innings and in the last game before the Gabba, Renshaw failed again.

He edged Trent Copeland behind to keeper Peter Nevill for just 16, giving him a Shield average this season of just 13.80.

Wade struggles again, but is Bancroft the answer?

Matthew Wade of Tasmania reacts after being bowled against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield.

Elsewhere, Victoria and Tasmania were in action at the MCG, and the Apple Isle decided to fit two wicketkeepers into the same side.

There was the extremely shaky incumbent, Matthew Wade, and the veteran Tim Paine, who is seen by most observers as a far better keeper than his team-mate but is well down the pecking order.

Paine came in at 2-62 at the start of the 19th over, but he lasted just three balls before Chris Tremain trapped him in front for a duck.

Enter Wade, who continued his terrible struggles with the bat, bowled by Peter Siddle for just 5 off 42 balls.

In Perth, however, Cameron Bancroft continued to press his claims for Wade's spot.

In the absence of keeper Sam Whiteman, Bancroft — who opens for the Warriors — has had a crack.

He has been serviceable behind the stumps, but his batting has caught the eye. Last game against NSW he scored 76 not out and 86.

Today against the Redbacks, Bancroft continued his good form and made it to his century in the first hour of the final session, off 188 balls with 12 fours.

You might suggest that with those runs he could be in the mix for an opener spot, but the real question is whether the selectors will again opt for a less technical keeper who they think can add runs down the order.

What about Marsh? No, not THAT Marsh

The other story out of the west was a yarn about Marsh … no, not Shaun Marsh.

The aforementioned Shaun, batting on a strip that was clearly not too dangerous, made just 17 before being clean-bowled by Joe Mennie.

Mitchell Marsh, however, has had a poor start to the Shield season, but with Bancroft in charge at the other end, he also cashed in against South Australia, getting out for 95 off 110 balls, with 14 fours and two sixes.

The timing is great, but it's his only decent score so far — is he worth a risk?

Glenn Maxwell of Victoria edges behind to be out against Tasmania on day one at the MCG.

The other name being bandied around for the number six spot is Glenn Maxwell.

He came in first drop at the MCG in only the second over — sadly for him and Australia he only lasted nine balls before mistiming a drive off fast-medium bowler Gabe Bell and edging to Wade to depart for 4.

He has two half-centuries this season, for an average of 37.75 — not exactly banging the door down.

An incumbent, Peter Handscomb, has had three starts and one 50 in his first four Shield innings, but today he was out for a duck off five balls, edging a ball from Bell to Paine in the slips.

You can never say never with selectors, but he should still start in Brisbane.

Another bowler bites the dust

Australia's bowling is not the problem at the moment — with Mitchell Starc taking multiple hat-tricks in a match last week, and Pat Cummins looking quite nice thank you for the Blues.

Those cricket fans who are pessimists, however, spend most of their time waiting for the next Australian fast bowler to pick up an injury and have themselves removed from contention.

James Pattinson is out ahead of spinal surgery, last week it was Nathan Coulter-Nile's recurrence of a stress fracture and today another Western Australian joined him on the sidelines.

Left-armer Jason Behrendorff took no part in the game at the WACA, ruled out with back soreness.

The niggling question becomes — who is next in if there is a sudden tweak for one of the top-liners?

SA's Chadd Sayers took a wicket against the Warriors, but he's not setting the place on fire.

And Jackson Bird is the squad replacement for Coulter-Nile, he has 10 wickets in two games this season, but he has been unable to establish himself in the Test side and at 30 would be a stop-gap measure.

Let's see what day two has in store.

Queensland v NSW

External Link: Queensland v NSW scorecard

Victoria v Tasmania

External Link: Victoria v Tasmania scorecard

Western Australia v South Australia

External Link: Western Australia v South Australia scorecard


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