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.
And although Hughes hasn’t been guaranteed to feature in all three Tests against Sri Lanka, Inverarity gave a strong hint the left-hander would play at least the first two Tests in Hobart and Melbourne.
"When I phoned him, I did say to him 'I’ll see you in Melbourne'. But I didn’t tell him he’s got the (whole) series," Inverarity said.
"We look to Phil Hughes to be one of our players for the future - a real long-term player."I think Phil’s in a very good place at the moment."
His technique, if you watched him closely 12 months ago and now, his scoring range is very different.
"He’s scoring through the leg-side, off his pads much better, driving on the on-side and pulling short balls, which wasn’t the case 12 months ago.
"So I think he’s developed his game and it’s much harder now for bowlers, in a sense, to corner him."
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.