Hughes back in Australia squad

  • Last Updated: December 6 2012, 8:31 GMT

Phillip Hughes has been selected to replace Ricky Ponting for the first Test against Sri Lanka, beginning next Friday in Hobart.

Phillip Hughes: Back in the Australia squad

Hughes, who has scored 524 first-class runs this summer at 47.63, will return to the side after 12 months in exile with his last Test coming in Hobart against New Zealand.

The 24-year-old returns to the 12-man squad in place of Ponting, who brought his decorated career to an end after the third Test against South Africa in Perth.

Pace duo Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus also return to the squad at the expense of John Hastings and Josh Hazlewood, who were both not considered due to injury.

"Phillip is an improved player and his recent and overall career statistics present a compelling case," national selection panel (NSP) chairman John Inverarity said.

"The NSP 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 was picked ahead of Alex Doolan, Usman Khawaja and Rob Quiney, who failed to impress in his two Tests against the Proteas.

Coach Mickey Arthur hinted yesterday the Shane Watson is likely to drop down to four in the order, with captain Michael Clarke staying at five, meaning Hughes, who has opened in all of his previous 17 Tests, will likely bat at three.

Inverarity said: "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."

Siddle and Hilfenhaus return after missing the third-Test defeat against South Africa.

"The squad welcomes the return of Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle," said Inverarity. "Neither bowler was considered to be 100% fit to perform and was not included in the final squad of 12 for the recent Perth Test match against South Africa."

Inverarity looked forward to the start of a new era after Ponting's retirement.

"The dressing room will be different without the presence of Ricky Ponting," he said. "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."

Australia squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka: Michael Clarke (c), Shane Watson (vc), Ed Cowan, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (w), David Warner.

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