THE old adage "play every game like it is your last" suddenly has new meaning for Victorian veteran batsman David Hussey.
Initially set to be overlooked by the Bushrangers, Hussey now finds all eyes are on him as Victoria vie for an outright Sheffield Shield win over Queensland at the Gabba.
At stumps on day two, the Bushrangers are 5-230 with Hussey not out 41 in reply to the Bulls' first innings of 8(dec)-382.
The 36-year-old appeared to be fighting for his first-class career when named 12th man for Victoria's last Shield clash - the second time in three games he had been snubbed.
And he had only played in the match before that against Western Australia - in which he struck a fine 85 - because captain Matthew Wade was suspended for pitch tampering.
Fate stepped in again ahead of the Bulls clash when Rob Quiney (calf) succumbed to injury.
However, Hussey admits even a match-winning knock may not guarantee another start for the Bushrangers.
"I am just enjoying playing to be fair," he said.
"We have some good kids playing for Victoria at the moment.
"If I can contribute it makes it worthwhile."
Asked to describe his situation, Hussey said: "It's an interesting one.
"I still want to play and contribute to the team but I understand the direction Cricket Victoria are heading and they have communicated with me beautifully.
"I am up here trying to help the young kids play in different conditions."
Late bloomer Hussey always said he played each of his 69 one-day internationals and 39 Twenty20s for Australia "like they were his last".
Suddenly it is a fitting mantra at the Bushrangers.
But Hussey added: "It's how I have played all my life.
"It's no different to how I started 10 years ago."
Queensland struck a telling blow before stumps when Wade (35) was caught behind off Ben Cutting (1-56), ending a 75-run fifth-wicket stand with Hussey as Victoria again stumbled in their first-innings run-chase.
But Hussey has picked up where the likes of Cameron White (76) and opener Peter Handscomb (52) left off.
The pair put on a 103-run third wicket stand after Alister McDermott (3-52) trapped Aaron Finch (four) in front and bowled Glenn Maxwell (14) to reduce the visitors to 2-33.
Earlier, the Bulls declared their first innings on the stroke of lunch in their hunt for a much-needed result.
Bottom team Queensland have approached the clash as a must-win game after amassing just four points in five matches - 14 behind leaders NSW - while the Bushrangers (8 points) are reeling from two outright losses.
WESTERN Australia have the upper hand over Tasmania after a tumultuous day of 15 wickets and 304 runs in the Sheffield Shield clash at Bellerive.
The Warriors lead Tasmania by 177 after reaching 5-115 on day two, Mitchell Marsh to resume on 40 with Sam Whiteman 15.
The match swung wildly as wickets tumbled, and it was WA who first found themselves in the driving seat when they reduced the home side to 7-41 in their first innings.
But Tigers pair Evan Gulbis (80) and Luke Butterworth (72) then put on 145 from just 142 balls to somehow get their side back in it.
Tasmania were eventually dismissed for 196, 62 behind the Warriors' first innings total of 258.
It was then Western Australia's turn to flirt with disaster and they were 4-32 in their second innings before Marsh and Aston Turner (30) steadied with a 51-run partnership.
Tigers left-armer Sam Rainbird took 3-32.
WA's lead could prove handy after Tasmanian collapses in their past two innings, the Tigers also losing 7-29 a week ago against NSW.
But Gulbis said his side was out to set things right.
"That's behind us now so we're just looking at making sure we do all the right things in the next innings and probably make amends," he said.
Tasmania's top order effort resembled a slips catching drill, with nine dismissals behind the wicket, as they contemplated their worst ever Shield total of 76.
Gulbis's highest first class score came off just 73 balls and included 14 boundaries.
"There is a lot to lose but in a way a lot of our guys got out nicking so I thought I'd play my shots before I nick one," he said.
WA seamer Mitch Marsh finished with 4-19 and Ryan Duffield, who'd been on a hat-trick in the first over of the day, 3-55.
"We saw that if our bowlers put it in the right area then there was a little bit in it," Marsh said.
IT IS hard to change a winning Test team, but Phil Hughes is hoping to make noise at the selection table following another Sheffield Shield century.
Hughes' 118 during a six-hour stay at the crease on Monday rescued South Australia from the dire position of 3-82 to be 5-288 at stumps on day two in reply to NSW's first innings of 373.
It is the 25-year-old's third ton of the summer, and the 24th of his first class career, cementing his place as the next in line for Darren Lehmann's Test team.
Hughes will find it hard to force his way into the Ashes series, with Australia leading 2-0 and taking an unchanged squad to Perth for Friday's third Test.
But he could find himself on a plane to South Africa in the new year for the three-Test tour in February.
"All I want to do is continue to score runs. That's what they've (selectors) told me to do," he said.
"I just love to be talked about.
"That's something that I want to keep doing, keep making noise and scoring as many behind me as possible.
"If something comes up around the selection table that I'm one of the few they're talking about, that's something that I'd really love.
"I want to just continue to make big statements with big runs."
Hughes has had three lives in Test cricket already - having been dropped in England in 2009, after a disastrous home series against New Zealand in 2011-12 and again in England this year.
But he's returned with a point to prove in the Shield, where he has smashed 547 runs at an average of 68 - second only to 34-year-old Marcus North (593 at 98.8).
All of his trademarks were on display at the SCG as he cut and drove with distinction during a 144-run partnership with Callum Ferguson - who also batted superbly to hit an impressive 80 as the pair rescued the Redbacks.
Hughes was subjected to a short-pitched barrage from young Blues allrounder Sean Abbott (0-28 off 18 overs), but resisted the temptation to hook with two men back on the boundary.
Trent Copeland, the pick of the Blues' bowlers, eventually had Hughes caught at slip after he extracted some extra bounce from a mostly gentle pitch.
Copeland finished with figures of 3-83 after also taking two wickets in the morning session.
Trailing by just 85, the Redbacks are well positioned to take first innings points in the top-of-the-table clash.