Test hopefuls out to stake claim in Shield

Rob Forsaith
Marcus Harris believes Joe Burns is yet to nail his Test spot and wants to make a play for it

The Sheffield Shield resumes on Friday and there is plenty at stake for a long list of Test aspirants that includes Marcus Harris, who has declared the door remains ajar for Joe Burns' spot.

A two-Test tour of Bangladesh in June may seem a long way away, but the coming weeks could not be more important for Harris and those on the fringe of Australia's XI.

Harris, who hasn't donned the baggy green since last year's fifth Ashes Test, will open for bottom-placed Victoria in their Shield clash with table-topping NSW at the SCG.

Moises Henriques and Kurtis Patterson, who like Harris will represent Australia A in next week's MCG clash with England A, join Nathan Lyon, Peter Nevill, Trent Copeland and Steve O'Keefe in a NSW XI loaded with Test experience.

National coach Justin Langer has made it clear he is unlikely to tweak the top six after a dominant home summer in which Australia won all five Tests inside four days.

But a productive couple of first-class performances from Harris, Patterson, Usman Khawaja or any other hopeful could force a rethink.

"I probably don't think he (Joe Burns) has nailed it down quite yet," Harris told RSN 927.

"We've got four Shield games left and the Australia A game next week.

"There's a good opportunity there for some people to put their name up.

"There's only two Tests between now and next summer. I'm not sure what they (selectors) will do, whether they'll make any changes or not, but I think the door's probably still ajar."

Patterson, who was celebrating his maiden Test ton a year ago at Manuka Oval, is simply happy to be playing after a recurring quad injury restricted him to a single game in the first half of the Shield season.

"I've worked on that skill of putting the Australia stuff out of my mind," Patterson told reporters.

"There's only two Tests and they're in Bangladesh. So who knows how much the back half of the Shield season, with a swinging and seaming Dukes ball, is going to really count.

"But it'll be nice to get out there and win some games for NSW and hopefully win another Shield ... it's never nice to miss big chunks of cricket, especially when you feel like you're batting well."

Shield games also start at the Gabba and Adelaide Oval, where South Australia host Western Australia, on Friday.

Marnus Labuschagne could potentially find himself bowling to Tim Paine in Brisbane, where the Test skipper is leading Tasmania in the absence of regular captain Matthew Wade (international duty).