WI series a big chance for Aussie Cup hopefuls
At first glance, Australia's upcoming five-match one-day series against the West Indies seems fairly meaningless.
But for some of Australia's fringe international cricketers, their hopes of gaining selection for the 2015 World Cup could be riding on it.
The series against the West Indies, which starts at the WACA Ground on Friday, will be Australia's final hit-out in the 50-over format before June's ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales.
And with Australian selectors eager to settle the national squad ahead of the World Cup, coach Mickey Arthur said players who gain selection for this year's Champions Trophy would be given every chance to hold their spots until the 2015 showpiece event.
"When we select the Champions Trophy squad, (we will) stick with that squad for a year to give them every opportunity of getting continuity and trying to build a winning culture to take us into the 2015 World Cup," Arthur said.
"A couple of guys have really put their hands up and some haven't taken that opportunity."
Australia's batting vulnerability in the 50-over format was exposed in the recent 2-2 drawn series against Sri Lanka.
Although Phil Hughes struck two centuries, Australia's batting was largely underwhelming, with their embarrassing total of 74 in the third ODI the biggest concern.
Arthur is confident in the depth and quality of Australia's bowling stocks. But the same can't be said for the batting lineup, which is yet to be fully settled.
"The problem is we've got one great player in Michael Clarke and we've got a couple of really good players who are starting to step up - (David) Warner and (Matthew) Wade," Arthur said.
"And then we've got a bottleneck of batters and we weren't quite sure who were the next best."
Veteran David Hussey, who has been dropped for the first two one-dayers against the West Indies, appears unlikely to be in the selectors' plans for the 2015 World Cup.
But Big Bash hero Aaron Finch has another massive chance to prove his worth on the international stage, despite failing to fire for Australia in the recent ODI and Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka.
Off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who is yet to take a wicket in seven ODIs, is another player who will be aiming to impress against the West Indies, especially with a spot in the Test team also up for grabs.
Tasmanian all-rounder James Faulkner could make his ODI debut in the series opener on Friday after replacing Moises Henriques (finger) in the squad, while skipper Clarke is set to return to the side after overcoming an ankle injury.
And although West Australian Shaun Marsh missed selection for the first two games, he could be called up later in the series after a sizzling summer with the bat in T20 ranks.