Aaron Finch is set to bat No. 3 for Victoria behind Marcus Harris and Travis Dean in what appears a compromise between his likely opening role for Australia in the looming Test series against India and the state team's clear desire to avoid breaking up their own settled combination at the top of the order.
Having led Australia to a six-wicket defeat to India at the SCG on Sunday night, Finch landed in Brisbane on Monday afternoon to prepare for his first and only Sheffield Shield match before the Border-Gavaskar series. After making his Test debut for Australia as an opener in the UAE matches against Pakistan, Finch's role in home conditions has been a matter for some debate.
While the national team coach Justin Langer has stated that he liked the promise shown by Finch and Usman Khawaja as an opening pair in Dubai, the inclusion of Harris in the Test squad suggested a likely move down the order by one of the pair. With Khawaja boasting an enviable record at No. 3, that has led to many expecting Finch and Harris will open, but the Victoria coach Andrew McDonald's preference for Travis Dean to remain up the top with Harris has led to a shift for another Test squad member, Peter Handscomb, to No. 4 from No. 3 spot he has occupied for the last two Shield matches.
"I'm going to bat at No. 3 in the Shield game I think, I had a quick chat to Andrew McDonald this morning and I think that's going to be the case," Finch said on his arrival in Brisbane. "[Finch and Harris] have played a fair bit of cricket together now, so whether we walk out to open the batting together for Victoria or Australia or I bat at three, I don't think it makes too much difference to be honest.
"I'm happy to bat anywhere, whatever the best way I fit into the Victoria side is important for the balance of their side to win games and we've had some really good success over the last four or five years, so it's exciting to be back with them."
Moving Handscomb to No. 4 would reflect the large Victorian presence in the Test squad, but also his likely position in the national team as a possibility to bat at No. 5. Another intriguing decision on Sunday night was the inclusion of Mitchell Starc for his first T20I for two years, after the decision had been made to rest him from the New South Wales Shield team to face Western Australia in Perth.
The Australian domestic season is structured in format-by-format blocks - one-day tournament, six Shield rounds, Big Bash League than another four Shield rounds - to avoid abrupt shifts for pace bowlers, but Alex Carey, Australia's T20 wicketkeeper, suggested that a bowler of Starc's level of experience should be able to cope.
"He's played a lot of cricket now. He's a real professional, looks after his body. He'll be fine," Carey said. "It was fun standing behind the stumps to him. I've had the pleasure to do it in the ODI series and now in this T20, it's always exciting. You're always waiting for something to happen and I thought he bowled really well ... he had a real impact."
Two other notable figures seen around the Australian set-up in the past 24 hours have been the banned duo of David Warner and Steven Smith, who last week had their suspensions upheld by Cricket Australia, meaning they remain unavailable for international or state selection until the end of March. Warner batted in the SCG nets against Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood on Sunday afternoon, while Smith met for a coffee with Langer on Monday.
"It's great to see them back around the boys, hitting balls and preparing as well as they can for when their bans are up. It's obviously been a difficult time for them, but I think they've handled it very well and it's great to see them back training," Finch said. "I haven't spoken to Steve a huge amount over the last little while, I spoke to Davey a lot, but I'll definitely over the next few weeks catch up with Steve and try to get him for a coffee at some point."
The three T20Is were characterised by enormous Indian support at the Gabba, the MCG and the SCG, and Finch said that while he enjoyed the frenzied atmosphere that resulted, he was hopeful for a more vociferous Australian presence for the Tests, starting in Adelaide on December 6.
"There's certainly a lot of Indian supporters, we know how passionate they are about the game, how loud they are at the game as well. It's just great to see people supporting cricket," Finch said. "I think we'll get that [home support] throughout the summer in the Tests in particular, but the Indian fans are so loud, it's great for the game, a great atmosphere in the game as well."