Wade continues irresistible push for Ashes inclusion
Matthew Wade has produced a timely century for Australia A as national selectors prepare to whittle their list of 25 contenders down to a 16-man Ashes squad.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns' panel is well advanced in its planing for the five-Test series that begins at Edgbaston on August 1.
But the next fortnight could yet make or break the dreams of many hoping to be part of Australia's quest for their first Test series win in England since 2001.
Especially those vying to be the reserve paceman and reserve batsman in the touring party that will be named following the unprecedented Australia-Australia A contest, which will feature the nation's 25 best players and start in Southampton on July 23.
The fierce competition for spots heated up in Canterbury, when Wade's 114 helped Australia A reach 4-362 at stumps on day one of their clash with England Lions.
Travis Head, fully expected to retain his spot in the XI for the first Test, finished 130 not out. Head and Wade shared a 219-run stand.
Peter Siddle snared 5-33 from 17 overs in his final county outing before taking part in the Ashes selection trial.
Marcus Harris is favoured to open with David Warner in the first Test but Cameron Bancroft and Joe Burns are also likely to be considered, while Test incumbents Kurtis Patterson and Marnus Labuschagne are also Wade's rivals in the scrap over spots.
Siddle, Jackson Bird, Chris Tremain and Michael Neser are jostling for one spot in a squad that is certain to feature Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson.
"We're going to have some guys that are really unlucky to miss out on this Ashes squad," captain Tim Paine said.
"For the first time in a long time we've got a number of guys in form with both bat and ball.
"The positive of that is the guys who make it will have thoroughly deserved to make it and they're in really good form."
Hazlewood and Pattinson have been rested from the ongoing match in Canterbury, with selectors and medicos keen to carefully manage their workload. A final decision on how to allocate talent for the all-Australia showdown in Southampton is yet to be made.
The mooted 'schoolboy draft', in which Paine and his yet-to-be named opposing captain would take turns selecting players, is unlikely to go ahead.
"I'd like to see it but I'm not sure how that would work ... they might do it in a different way. The staff might pick the teams, I'm not sure," Paine said.