PM's XI: Opening contenders' last chance to audition for Warner's spot

Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft – along with allrounder Cameron Green – will all feature in a strong Prime Minister's XI squad

The three aspirants for David Warner's opening spot at the end of the Pakistan Test series this summer will have a chance to lay their claim in next month's Prime Minister's XI fixture.

Victoria's Marcus Harris, Queensland's Matthew Renshaw and Western Australia's Cameron Bancroft will all be part of a strong PM's XI squad to face Pakistan in Canberra from December 6-9.

Axed allrounder Cameron Green is also set to be included in the squad announced next week as he attempts to win back the No.6 role he lost to state teammate Mitch Marsh during the Ashes.

While the four-day clash at Manuka Oval serves as important preparation for the tourists ahead of their three-Test series against World Test Championship-winners Australia, it doubles as the last audition for Usman Khawaja's new opening partner for the two Tests against the West Indies that follow the series with Pakistan.

Warner flagged prior to the WTC Final and Ashes he plans to retire from Test cricket following the New Year's match against the subcontinent nation at the SCG in January.

The 37-year-old also revealed this week he would not take a Cricket Australia contract if offered one for 2024-25 but would still be available for next year's T20 World Cup in the United States and Caribbean, and potentially the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy to be held in Pakistan.

Harris had previously been earmarked by national selectors as Warner's successor in the red-ball format when he was handed a CA contract for the current financial year in April, but a lean start to the Marsh Sheffield Shield season for Victoria has put his two main rivals back in the frame.

The 31-year-old left-hander hit his first century of the summer in the first innings of last week's draw with Tasmania at the Junction Oval, and hit 73 in the current round on a trick MCG pitch.

His prior top score in four innings to start the Shield season was 11.

Bancroft is again the Shield's leading scorer so far this season with 505 runs at 63.12 including two centuries and three half-centuries from his eight completed innings, after also topping the competition tally by almost 300 runs last summer as his team claimed back-to-back titles.

"He's doing all he possibly can do," WA head coach Adam Voges said of Bancroft following his 57 and 100 in their clash with the Redbacks last month.

"He was outstanding all of last season. He's started this season like he finished last year and he's the premier form batsman of the competition.

"His consistency and the way that he's gone about his run scoring has just been incredible.

"Him and Sam Whiteman at the top have been a big part of the reason why we've had success in recent times."

Renshaw has also started the season in good touch with consecutive hundreds against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield and Marsh Cup, along with half-centuries against NSW and Tasmania in the Shield.

The trio have all previously had a taste of Test cricket at the top of the order – Harris 26 innings, Bancroft 18 and Renshaw 19 – with Renshaw the last of the three to don the Baggy Green in the middle-order in the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar series in February this year.

Men's selection chair George Bailey said opportunities for domestic players to face an international opposition were rare and they would select a strong and highly-talented squad to play Pakistan.

"As the Australian men's Test team continues to evolve in the short to medium term, the timing of the match comes at an important stage of the summer with five home Tests and two away in New Zealand," he said.

"We've seen some strong individual performances to start the Sheffield Shield season and with another round left before the squad will be selected, we are looking forward to seeing players continue to put their hands up for selection."

The match reverts to a red-ball fixture this summer last year's drawn day-night pink-ball clash with the West Indies with tickets for the four-day match on sale now.

Article first produced by Banner image courtesy collage of Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft.

NRMA Insurance Test series v Pakistan

PM's XI: December 6-9, Manuka Oval (10.30am AEDT)

First Test: December 14-18, Perth Stadium (1.20pm AEDT)

Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (10.30am AEDT)

Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (10.30am AEDT)

Men's NRMA Insurance Test Series v West Indies

First Test: January 17-21, Adelaide Oval (10.30am AEDT)

Second Test: January 25-29 (D/N), Gabba (3pm AEDT)

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