Test hopeful Glenn Maxwell says the return of Mitchell Marsh to the bowling crease was always going to put the West Australian in contention for a Magellan Ashes berth, particularly following on from his recent strong form with the bat.
Marsh was recalled to the Test squad for the third Ashes match in his native Perth, which begins next Thursday, at the expense of South Australia seamer Chadd Sayers.
The right-arm medium-fast bowler and right-hand batsman was in the Test side until finally succumbing to a nagging shoulder injury in India in March, after which he had a reconstruction and spent the winter going through rehab on the problem joint.
But a triumphant return in the JLT One-Day Cup, in which he batted brilliantly (he made 338 runs with one century and two fifties, and was out only twice) and captained WA to the title, was the beginning of a purple patch for the 26-year-old.
He has since piled on 402 runs at 44.66 in the Sheffield Shield, while he returned to the bowling crease against Queensland last month, getting through nine overs and taking two wickets, and topped that up with another 13 overs against Victoria.
Maxwell, a dynamo for Melbourne Stars in the KFC Big Bash League, has led all comers for Shield runs this season, piling on 590 runs at 73.75, but the right-hand batsman and off-spinner – who has just one Shield wicket this summer – follows the logic behind Marsh's selection at his expense on a WACA Ground wicket that has lacked its traditional pace and bounce in recent years.
"I had dinner with him after day two of the Shield game (earlier this week)," he told cricket.com.au. "He seemed to be in a really good space and he's hitting the ball really well.
"Watching him in the first innings he looked really solid (in making 43).
"Now that he's back bowling, he's always going to be pretty close to the mark of playing for Australia. He's a medium pace allrounder and I'm an off-spinning allrounder; going to the WACA you probably don't need that extra spinning option and you can completely understand why (selectors) would have gone that way.
"All I can do is wish him well, he's a very good mate of mine. We've played in a lot of teams together and shared in a lot of success together. Hopefully he and his brother can go really well."
Despite only being at the midway point of the summer, this season already represents Maxwell's most productive Shield campaign with the bat, and he puts the improvements down to a couple of changes, both mentally and technically.
"I think the best thing I did was update my philosophy on how I went about things with training, playing, the mental side of the game – making sure I'm controlling everything I can control," he said. "There's no point worrying about things like selection, umpiring decisions, the wicket. It's just making sure that everything I can do, I'm doing right."
Maxwell made the technical shift – which he explains is regarding a transferal of weight and a resulting improvement in footwork – following the JLT One-Day Cup.
"It's just something I noticed watching a bit of footage back," he added. "When I went to the nets after that I looked down at my feet and wasn't quite happy with what I saw.
"I worked out a way of moving my body weight forward and back a little bit better, (just by) finding a slightly tighter stance. I was probably a bit stuck on the crease over the past 18 months – I was more a hands player and probably didn't use my legs as much.
"So it was a small change but a big change in technically becoming more a legs player than a hands player. It doesn't sound like a big change but when it changes the way you hit the ball and the way you move on the crease, it is a big change.
"And I've found it works. It just felt more comfortable and I knew that runs were going to come."
Stars fans will be hoping that is the case when their Big Bash campaign kicks off against Brisbane Heat at the Gabba on Wednesday, December 20, with Maxwell lining up alongside England great Kevin Pietersen and taking on 'Bash Brothers' Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum in what looms as a blockbuster clash.
The Stars then play Perth Scorchers away on Boxing Day, while their first home game is a return fixture with the Heat at the MCG on January 2.
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard
Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets
Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21