CRICKET SHIELD WA SA
Cameron Bancroft has been axed from Western Australia's Sheffield Shield side, less than seven months after opening for Australia in the Ashes.
The out-of-form batsman has been dropped for his state's vital clash with Queensland at the WACA on Friday following a horrendous run of form.
The 27-year-old has scored just 158 Shield runs at 13.16, with a top score of 30, for Western Australia this summer.
Last August, Bancroft played his first Test since the 2018 sandpaper scandal, but he was discarded as David Warner's opening partner after the drawn second Test at Lord's.
"Cameron Bancroft is a quality player, ultimately he hasn't been at his best this season which sees him miss this match. We are looking forward to seeing him bounce back," WA coach Adam Voges said.
But Western Australia will be buoyed by the inclusion of Marcus Stoinis, with the BBL player of the tournament returning from injury.
The Bulls welcome back Usman Khawaja and Michael Neser will return as their hold on second is tested in the penultimate round.
New South Wales have shot clear at the top on six wins ahead of their trip to Tasmania, but just 10 points separate the Bulls (four wins) from Victoria, the Warriors, South Australia and even the last-placed Tigers (all two wins), with two rounds to play.
Former Test No.3 Khawaja, swing-bowling standout Neser, in-form leg spinner Mitch Swepson, allrounder Jack Wildermuth and quick Mark Steketee will all return after taking on the English Lions at the MCG and missing the Bulls' tight last-round loss to the Bushrangers.
A win over the fourth-placed Warriors would put the Bulls on track for another Sheffield Shield final ahead of their final-round duel with the Redbacks, who host Victoria in this round's other fixture.
While teams scrap below them, the Blues arrive in Hobart buoyed by the fitness and form of Kurtis Patterson, who has played just three first-class matches this season thanks to a quad injury.
An unbeaten 94 in the second innings of Australia A's loss to the Lions showed the Test middle-order hopeful was hitting his straps as the Blues chase their first Shield crown since 2014.
Patterson also made 54 in the Blues' only loss of the season to Victoria a fortnight ago.
"The injury hasn't felt like it has affected my batting too much," he said.
"I feel like I'm ready; I felt like I was ready to go first game back ... it (the half century against the Bushrangers) was probably a big missed opportunity.
"(Some) valuable time in the middle last week and it's put me in really good stead for this week down in Hobart."
Australian Twenty20 representative Sean Abbott is also back for the Blues, as is Moises Henriques from Australia A duty.
SHEFFIELD SHIELD LADDER
* New South Wales - 49.76 points
* Queensland - 33.88
* Victoria - 30.61
* Western Australia - 29.1
* South Australia - 27.4
* Tasmania - 24.59