Melbourne: Phillip Hughes has been confirmed as the successor for dumped opener Simon Katich in a new-look Australia squad which includes two untried fast bowlers coming in at the expense of Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger for the three-test series in Sri Lanka.
Pacemen Trent Copeland and James Pattinson joined offspinner Nathan Lyon and batsman Shaun Marsh among four uncapped players in the 15-man squad announced Tuesday.
Australia selector Andrew Hilditch said 22-year-old Hughes deserved his chance to open the innings with vice-captain Shane Watson, who had formed a successful partnership with Katich since 2009. The 35-year-old Katich didn't have his national contract renewed this season.
Allrounder Steven Smith was also cut from the squad after failing to cement his spot either as No. 6 batsman or leg-spin bowler.
Copeland and 21-year-old Pattinson were selected ahead of Hilfenhaus and Bollinger, while left-arm spinner Michael Beer was retained after playing one Ashes test in the last series.
"It will be an important tour for Michael on grounds where we expect spin to play a major role," Hilditch said.
Australia hasn't settled on a main spin bowler since Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill retired and selectors were heavily criticized for constantly rotating the slow bowlers during the Ashes series loss at home to England last southern summer. Hilditch said selectors had originally wanted to persevere with Jason Krejza for the Sri Lanka tour, but his form in Australia A's matches in Zimbabwe was not good enough.
"Since the immense disappointment of the Ashes series, the coaching staff and playing group have worked tirelessly to prepare for the challenge ahead," Hilditch said. "There is a quiet confidence about the group and we are sure this squad will do all in its power to get the Australian test team back to where it needs to be in world cricket."
Hilditch conceded Lyon was a "surprise selection" after only four first-class matches for South Australia.
"Nathan may be a surprise selection, but he impressed all who have seen him in the last year," Hilditch said. "He is a young man with immense potential and we feel he will take this opportunity should he get the chance to play in Sri Lanka."
Copeland, 25, has taken 87 wickets from his 17 first-class matches for New South Wales, while Victoria's Pattinson was selected for his potential after playing just eight first-class matches.
"James is a young fast bowler with the potential to play an important role for Australia in all three forms of the game and we look forward to watching his further development during this tour," Hilditch said.
Michael Clarke will be leading the test team as permanent captain for the first time when the series against Sri Lanka starts Aug. 31 at Galle. The test series will follow two Twenty20 internationals and a limited-overs series next month. The 36-year-old Ricky Ponting, who was replaced as captain after Australia's quarterfinal exit at the World Cup, was included as a specialist batsman in the test squad.
"It is obviously a very important time for Australian cricket as we strive to get back to the top of world rankings in test cricket, but at the same time is a very exciting opportunity for this squad as it takes on Sri Lanka on its home soil," Hildtich said. "We believe the squad has a really good blend of experience and young talented players who we are sure are ready for the challenges ahead.
Test squad: Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Michael Beer, Trent Copeland, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle.
Michael Clarke (c)
Shane Watson (vc)