Sydney: The Sheffield Shield failures of West Australian veterans Mike Hussey and Marcus North has heightened and intensified speculation about what the Australian middle-order is going to be for the Ashes.
A day after Test challenger Callum Ferguson blasted 129 from 143 for South Australia, a performance which drew praise from national coach Tim Nielsen, Hussey yesterday fell for a golden duck against the Redbacks and North, after being dropped on 0, was bowled for 10 aiming an extravagant shot, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Selectors brought Hussey home early from the one-day series in India and excused him from last night`s Twenty20 international in the belief he was better off playing in the Sheffield Shield, for the first time in almost three years, before the Ashes.
The 35-year-old`s recall for the one-day series against Sri Lanka will mean his next chance to play in the longest form of the game - apart from today in Adelaide if the Warriors bat again - will be in the Shield match against Victoria ending on November 20, five days before the Brisbane Test.
North has only passed 20 once in his past six Test innings, albeit with that innings being a fighting 128 against India in Bangalore.
His exclusion from the one-day squad should make him available to lead WA in their three-day match against England starting on Friday, with national selectors not expected to shield him from the visitors.
Nielsen, asked about Hussey`s failure, said it would "be nice for him to get some runs" but then downplayed the importance of it.
Nielsen, who is not a selector, was more emphatic about North`s tenure in the Test team.
"Marcus is coming off a Test match hundred in the last Test he played, he played really well in the [National Cup] one-day game ... against Victoria and got 94 not out. That`s one of the things in his favour. When he goes back to the domestic level he plays well ... the challenge for us and for him is to ensure that he`s as consistent as he can be at the top level."
Ferguson`s first Shield innings in almost 20 months was the most outstanding of all the Test challengers. Phillip Hughes made only five opening for NSW in Brisbane, although his Blues teammate, Usman Khawaja, fared better, scoring 60.
Nielsen said the performance of 25-year-old Ferguson, four days after he was dropped from the national one-day squad, meant there would be "plenty for the selectors to think about".
"I think he`s done a tremendous job," he said.
Asked if Ferguson was a chance to debut in Brisbane, Nielsen replied: "I`m sure he`s a big chance. Runs do the talking, don`t they? All he can keep doing is making sure that whenever opportunity comes he puts his best foot forward."