Melbourne: Ed Cowan, the Tasmania opening batsman, has barged his way into Australia's Boxing Day Test team to face India through weight of runs, and will be joined in the top three by Shaun Marsh provided the West Australian can prove his fitness.
Ben Hilfenhaus has also earned a recall, as the selectors sought an experienced head to help a young bowling attack battle India's batsmen at the MCG.
Cowan and Marsh replaced Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja from the XI that was ingloriously beaten by New Zealand in Hobart, with Shane Watson and Ryan Harris unable to be chosen due to continued fitness complaints.
Watson aggravated a calf problem on day one of the team's batting camp in Melbourne, while Harris indicated he was short of the required conditioning after returning to cricket for the Brisbane Heat in last night's BBL match at the Gabba.
John Inverarity, the national selector, said Marsh's need to show his back can stand up to the rigours of a Test match caused the naming of a 13-man squad.
"The NSP has named 13 players due to the ongoing uncertainty about the fitness of Shaun Marsh," Inverarity said. "Shane Watson was not considered for selection as he has not recovered sufficiently from his injury. Ryan Harris has not yet achieved the volume of bowling required to be available for consideration for Test selection.
"Ed Cowan has been in excellent form in recent weeks. His inclusion is in recognition of his consistently good performances and we anticipate that he can provide steadiness at the top of the order. Ben Hilfenhaus has regained form this season and he provides a strong and reliable bowling option.
"We see both Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja as developing players with bright futures and remaining as players of significance. They are determined young men and I know that they will work hard to produce compelling performances and push strongly for further consideration."
Since turning around an indifferent start to the season with an unbeaten 91 in a limited overs match against South Australia in Burnie in mid-November, Cowan's scores have been 4, 134*, 145, 10, 65, 145* and 109 in the first innings of the tour match against the Indians.
His strong form has been mirrored by Hifenhaus, who has shown greater snap and swing this summer after he looked innocuous at times against England during last summer's Ashes series. He was also considered close to selection for the New Zealand series, though the selectors ultimately decided to test out a younger attack as a precursor to India's visit.
Australia Test squad: Michael Clarke (captain), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.