Perth: Phil Hughes has been recalled to the Australia squad to replace the retired Ricky Ponting for the start of the three-test series against Sri Lanka next week. The 24-year-old Hughes was preferred to Usman Khawaja, Rob Quiney and Alex Doolan as the fresh batsman for the Dec. 14 test at Hobart to fill the void left by 168-test veteran Ponting, who retired after the loss to No. 1-ranked South Africa in Perth on Monday.
Hughes played the last of his 17 tests in a surprising loss to New Zealand at Hobart last December, but has switched provinces in the meantime, worked on deficiencies in his technique and scored more than 500 runs for South Australia in the Sheffield Shield this season. The left-handed batsman has twice been dropped from the Australian team after a promising start to his international career in 2009 at South Africa, where he scored 75 in his debut test and followed up with hundreds in each innings of his second — becoming the youngest batsmen ever to post two centuries in a test match.
Selection chairman John Inverarity announced the squad Thursday, saying Hughes' relatively young age was a factor in the selection. "The national selection panel holds the view that he, having just turned 24, is a very significant part of the future," Inverarity said. "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."
Inverarity said the batting order for the test would be decided by captain Michael Clarke, with Hughes likely to slot in at No. 3 in a reshuffle of the top order. Ponting was batting at No. 4 in the South Africa series, but it's likely allrounder Shane Watson will move back down the order after batting at No. 3 in Perth.
In other changes to the squad, pace bowlers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus — who led the attack in the first two drawn tests against South Africa — return after being rested for the third test against South Africa, while John Hastings was injured and unavailable for selection.
Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.