CRICKET SHIELD BULLS WESTERN AUSTRALIA
So often unfortunate to be overlooked, Joe Burns has a golden opportunity to finally cement his spot in Australia's Test side after being selected to open the batting alongside David Warner in the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba.
Cameron Bancroft is the surprise selection in the 14-man squad named on Thursday for the two-Test series starting in Brisbane on November 21.
But chief selector Trevor Hohns confirmed Bancroft is the spare batsman, meaning unless there is a late rethink, Burns will open the batting at the Gabba and recalled vice-captain Travis Head will slot into the middle order.
Incumbent opener Marcus Harris has been dropped and there was also no room for top-order stalwart Usman Khawaja, who averages 53 in Australian conditions but has been in underwhelming form over the past 12 months.
Burns' record of four centuries from just 16 Tests puts him in rare company but the Queenslander has had few opportunities since debuting in 2014.
The 30-year-old scored 180 in his most recent Test - against Sri Lanka in February - but missed out on the Ashes after being diagnosed with a fatigue disorder.
"He was desperately unlucky not to be included in that Ashes squad," Hohns told reporters in Perth.
"But we consider now is the right time for him to come back, try to form a good partnership at the top with David Warner.
"They know each other well, they're good friends and left and right-handed (opening combination) is pretty useful in our view."
Prodigious Victorian talent Will Pucovski asked not to be considered for selection, citing mental health reasons.
The 21-year-old had been on the cusp of debuting in the Sri Lanka series but returned home amid concerns for his wellbeing.
Hohns declined to say whether Pucovski, regarded as the best young batsman in domestic cricket, would have been included to face Pakistan if available.
Bancroft, with a stoic second-innings knock, ended up being the only batsman to advance his cause during the much-hyped Australia A bat-off against Pakistan.
Head, who will resume joint-vice captain duties alongside Pat Cummins, was among the flops in Perth but had helped cement his spot with a recent century against a Josh Hazlewood-led NSW attack in the Sheffield Shield.
"Travis has immense experience as a young leader for his state so he's certainly back in the mix to play and we also like the way he goes about his business when he's around the team, and the leadership skills he has to offer," Hohns said.
Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson are locked in a battle to partner frontline quicks Cummins and Hazlewood and offspinner Nathan Lyon at the Gabba.
Reserve Ashes paceman Michael Neser, highly-regarded for his pink-ball abilities, is a strong chance to debut in the day-night second Test in Adelaide.
"With Adelaide in mind and the pink ball under lights, with the type of bowling he offers, he is a genuine option," Hohns said.
Australia squad: Tim Paine (capt), David Warner, Joe Burns, Cameron Bancroft, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Michael Neser.