Hughes back in the Australian Test team

Phillip Hughes has been confirmed as the replacement for retired champion Ricky Ponting, the Australian selectors back him for a long-term stint in his third coming as a Test batsman.

As expected, Hughes was named in a squad of 12 for the series opener in Hobart, starting next Friday, edging out Usman Khawaja, Rob Quiney and Tasmanian batsman Alex Doolan for the privilege of replacing Australia’s greatest run-scorer.

Fast bowlers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus, rested from the Perth Test against South Africa, were included the squad alongside left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc.

John Hastings was not considered, having finished his debut Test with back soreness.

Hughes will return to the scene of his most recent Test, in which he was twice caught edging to slip as Australia slumped to defeat against New Zealand.

"Phillip is an improved player and his recent and overall career statistics present a compelling case," said national selector John Inverarity.

"The National Selection Panel holds the view that he, having just turned 24, is a very significant part of the future.

"He has received this call-up, his third, as it was considered to be the right time and circumstances for him to re-establish himself."

Hughes is likely to bat in the pivotal No.3 position with Shane Watson moving down one place to No.4.

"Michael Clarke will give careful consideration to his batting order during the next few days. He has a number of options open to him and Hughes at three is one of these," Inverarity said.

He said the first Test of the post-Ponting era presented a chance for others to step into the void.

"The dressing-room will be different without the presence of Ricky Ponting. His absence creates both the opportunity and the necessity for others to grow and fill the gap.

"We look forward to watching Michael Clarke’s team in the three Test series against Sri Lanka after acquitting themselves well against the formidable South African line-up who deservedly retained the number one ICC Test ranking."

Australian squad for the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka starting on December 14 in Hobart:

Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson (vc), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.

This story Hughes back in the Australian Test team first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.