File Image of Australian Test Team. (Getty Images)
Sydney: Former Australia captain Mark Taylor says six spots are contestable in the national team ahead of the first Test against South Africa next month.
Taylor claimed only five members of the current Test side, which went down 3-0 in Sri Lanka in September, were assured of their places against the Proteas in Perth from November 3-7.
"The people who pick themselves at the moment are David Warner, Steve Smith, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and I think everyone else at this stage will be talked about," he told Cricket Australia's website.
"I don’t think there’s anyone else who's absolutely penned in at the moment.
"If you look at our last Test match (in Colombo), all of a sudden Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja are out in Sri Lanka after having pretty good summers. I’m sure they’ll come back into calculation."
His assessment leaves incumbent batsmen Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges, allrounders Mitchell Marsh and Moises Henriques, and spinners Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland needing to prove their form ahead of the first Test.
Of those, only all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has been on international duty with the one-day squad in South Africa that became the first Australia team to lose 5-0 in a bilateral 50-over series.
Voges (Test average of 72.75) and Shaun Marsh (who scored 130 in his last Test) have a strong chance of retaining their spot in the starting XI, as does veteran spinner Lyon (211 Test wickets).
Burns and Khawaja will likely come into contention for Perth after scoring six centuries between them last international southern summer, but according to Taylor, they need to put some solid performances on the board.
"They’ve got to prove their selection, that’s the way I would be looking at it if I was a selector," Taylor said.