Six players to watch in the Sheffield Shield

Joe Burns

The Queensland opener had been perennially unlucky when it came to Test selection but is back in favour after replacing Marcus Harris after the 2019 Ashes. Steady rather than spectacular in his five Tests last summer, Burns is in the box seat to partner David Warner, with whom he has a strong rapport. Not having to open on the seam-friendly Gabba deck helps his cause.

Joe Burns is in the box seat to open with David Warner in the first Test.Credit:AAP

A couple of big scores early would lock him in for the first Test otherwise Harris will challenge. Aged 31, Burns may not get too many more chances if he does not seize the moment.

Usman Khawaja

The classy left-hander started the Justin Langer era with a bang two years ago but the runs have since dried up for country and state.

Usman Khawaja remains on the radar of national selectors.Credit:Getty Images

Marnus Labuschagne has since taken the No.3 position and looks destined for a long stint in the pressure slot. Khawaja, who will bat at No.4 for Queensland, believes he can bat anywhere from one to six but the opener's position seems to be his best chance back into the Test side.

With the Ashes next season, selectors will want Khawaja around, at least as a back-up, but he turns 34 in December so time is running out.

Cameron Green

There are big wraps on WA all-rounder Cameron Green.Credit:Getty Images

There is always a "next big thing" in Australian cricket, and this season it's the 21-year-old all-rounder from Western Australian.

A glance at his numbers show why. From 15 games, he has three tons, an average of 44 with the bat and 28 wickets at 21.5 with his 140 km/h seamers. On the comeback trail from stress fractures in his back, Green's role with the ball will be limited in the next month but his work with the willow commands a place in WA's top six. Mitchell Marsh is the preferred Test all-rounder for now but it would not hurt to give him experience around the Test squad.

Will Pucovski

There is no doubting the talent of the Victorian young gun, who two seasons ago became just the eighth Australian to score a Shield double century before the age of 21. Unfortunately, mental health issues have prevented the prodigious talent from breaking through to wear the baggy green. A season away from the limelight scoring a mountain of runs in the Shield would not be detrimental for Pucovski, who still has plenty of time to lay down the foundations to his game before staking his claims for higher honours.

Will Pucovski has been on the fringe of the Test side since the start of 2019.Credit:Getty Images

Riley Meredith

There are big wraps on the Tasmanian speedster, not least because he has been widely spruiked by Test great Shane Warne. Meredith is fast, very fast, and batsmen around the country do not like facing him because they feel he hits the bat harder than anyone else. The quartet of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson are ahead of him but his selection for the England tour is proof he is considered a future prospect. If there is an injury to any of the big four, Meredith will be firmly in the picture.

Riley Meredith has a big admirer in Shane Warne.Credit:AAP

Mitchell Swepson

The leg-spinner is quietly developing his game at a time when Australian decks have not been a happy hunting ground for spinners due to the prevalence of pace-friendly Shield strips and the use of the Dukes ball – but that is set to change this season. Used primarily in a containing role last season, Swepson should become more of a weapon on suburban grounds likely to wear in the next month. The understudy to Nathan Lyon, his best best chance of a debut is in Sydney but his development is vital to Australia's hopes of success in Asia.

Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is impressing in Queensland.Credit:AAP

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