Six weeks to make the Ashes
The Sheffield Shield is finally back after being shelved for two months to accommodate a monster 59-game season of the Big Bash League.
Australia's prestigious first-class tournament will resume on Saturday for four rounds of red-ball cricket over six weeks, which will see England's Dukes ball used instead of the Kookaburra.
For some, it's four chances to show national selectors they are best suited to face the swinging ball in England where the Ashes starts in August. For others, nervous times are ahead as they try to hold onto their squad spots ahead of the hungry pack.
Here are the players who have the most to gain, and lose in the final four rounds of the Sheffield Shield.
MOST TO LOSE
The incumbent Test opener topscored for Australia in his debut series, which came against India during the summer. He scored 258 runs at 36.85 and - despite making no big scores - was a consistent performer who was never dismissed for single digits.
Fast forward six weeks and Harris suddenly finds himself on the chopping block after flopping in the two-Test series against Sri Lanka. He made scores of 44, 11 and 14 - making him the only player in the Australian top six to not pass 80 for the series. Scores of 3, 4 and 12 followed in the BBL, contributing to the picture of a batsman who has seemingly lost his way.
A poor end to the Shield season will leave selectors with little choice but to leave him at home this winter.
Harris' fellow incumbent opener Burns finds himself in a stronger position heading into the back half of the Shield.
He made the most of his Test re-call against Sri Lanka, scoring a brilliant 180 off 260 balls to register Australia's highest individual score since December 2017. He now has four Test centuries in 16 matches, which certainly puts him ahead of most other batsmen who wore the baggy green this summer.
Nonetheless, Burns now has a returning David Warner for competition - as does Harris.
Warner's ending suspension will place the pressure back on the Queensland opener to continue scoring runs in the Shield to keep him at bay.
The same could be said for Patterson who now has Steve Smith for competition in the Australian middle-order.
Injury permitting, Smith is almost certain to return to the Test side given his remarkable track record in the red-ball game. That leaves Patterson with no choice but to become a more appealing middle-order option than Marnus Labuschagne or Travis Head.
He's unlikely to keep a spot over the latter given Head was Australia's best batsman over the entire summer and was also elevated to vice-captain status. That means the New South Wales batsman's ongoing Test hopes hinge on outperforming Labuschagne in the Shield and hoping selectors don't feel the need to fill the No.6 spot with an all-rounder.
Unlike his older brother Shaun, 27-year-old Mitch Marsh has time on his side.
But that's where the good news ends. The bad news is that he finds himself the furthest away from the Test team he has been in recent times.
Marsh has since last summer made just 225 runs at 16.07 for Australia. He was only afforded one Test against India - in which he made 9 and 10 and took no wickets - before he was left out of the Sri Lanka series altogether.
Making matters worse for Marsh is that it was Marcus Stoinis, not him, who was called into the squad for the second Test when Matthew Renshaw was released.
Marsh wasn't selected for Australia's limited-overs tour of India either, which will give him the chance to rebuild his red-ball case while some of his competitors are busy facing the white-ball.
MOST TO GAIN
The Tasmanian wicketkeeper-batsman hasn't played a Test since September 2017 and appears to have very few ways left to re-impress selectors.
The 31-year-old has been in devastating form this summer, topscoring in the Shield with 571 runs at 63.44. He also scored the second-most runs in the BBL with 592 at 42.28.
Nonetheless, he didn't earn a call-up for the Sri Lanka series, or the India tour, leaving many to wonder if his name is on a blacklist at the selection table.
National selector Trevor Hohns insisted before the Sri Lanka series that wasn't the case, saying Wade needs to bat higher for his state to be considered. But Wade said he isn't prepared to bend over backwards for selectors and will continue to play where he is asked to by his state, which is currently at No.6.
Even so, if that means he ends the season averaging 60 with multiple centuries to his name, then surely his case becomes undeniable.
An untimely concussion in the UAE in October and a poor start to the Shield season saw Renshaw miss out on a Test cap this summer. He only scored 199 runs at 19.90 in his first five matches for the season but was still added to the Test squad for the Sri Lanka series.
The 22-year-old didn't play, but with 11 Tests already under his belt at a young age, the future remains bright for the Queensland opener.
A strong end to the Shield season - without any BBL or international fixtures on the immediate horizon - should be all that's required for Renshaw to throw himself back into the mix.
History is on his side, too. Renshaw started last Shield season slowly before piling on 654 runs at 65.40 after the BBL break.
Like Renshaw, Pucovski made it into Australia's Test squad this summer but didn't earn an international cap.
The 20-year-old earned the call-up after he became the first player since Ricky Ponting to score a Shield double ton before his 21st birthday, and just the ninth Australian ever.
His 243 runs off 311 balls against Western Australia may have put his name firmly on the map, although his first-class numbers were already strong, albeit from a small sample size.
In 13 first-class innings he's averaging 49.00 and has two centuries and a fifty to his name.
He's yet to wear a baggy green but has arguably garnered more buzz from the public than any other Test debutant in the past 12 months.
Given the returns of Warner and Smith, and the strong performances of Australia's top six against Sri Lanka, Pucovski is a smoky at best for an Ashes call-up. But more big scores in the final four rounds of the Shield could change that.
There hasn't been a more exciting time to be a fast bowler in the Shield in years for many reasons.
Firstly, there is an Ashes on the horizon, obviously.
But this is only the third time the Dukes ball will be used in the Shield - and the first time it will be used in the same year as an away Ashes tour.
Add into the equation the ongoing injury of Josh Hazlewood and his questionable form, along with that of his new ball partner Mitchell Starc, and suddenly the competition for spots heats up drastically.
Jhye Richardson has already emerged as one of Australia's best swing bowlers and has all but booked his spot on the plane to the UK. Hazlewood, Starc and Allan Border medallist Pat Cummins will all be there too.
But there are still spots in the squad up for grabs and, perhaps, a spot for the first Test at Edgbaston, too.
Victorian pace duo Scott Boland and Chris Tremain are the front runners as the Shield resumes. Boland leads the wicket-taking charts with 36 at 17.41, while Tremain is second with 28 at 23.60. The latter was also an emergency for Australia's Test series against India.
But there are others on the radar who have received support from the likes of Michael Vaughan, who certainly knows a thing or two about playing Test cricket in England.
The former England Test captain picked South Australian seamer Daniel Worrall in his theoretical Ashes squad. He wasn't alone, as Kerry O'Keeffe reserved as spot for either Worrall or Queensland's Michael Neser.
Neser impressed with the Dukes last season, ending the Shield as the second-highest wicket-taker with 39 at 21.84. 24 of those wickets came after the BBL break when the Dukes was used.
Every Test, ODI, T20I, and BBL match live & ad-break free during play. Get it all on Foxtel