Sydney - Young
batting prodigy Will Pucovski was parachuted into the Australia squad
for two Tests against Sri Lanka in a shock call-up on Wednesday, with
veteran Shaun Marsh and his brother Mitch dumped.
Also axed from the 13-man squad after the humbling 2-1 series defeat
to India were underperforming opener Aaron Finch and middle-order
batsman Peter Handscomb.
In-form Joe Burns was recalled for the first time since the South
Africa tour early last year and could open the innings with rookie
Marcus Harris, who did enough against India to keep his place.
But they face competition from Matt Renshaw, who has been handed
another opportunity despite misfiring in the domestic Sheffield Shield
All-rounder Marnus Labuschagne was retained from the team that played
the rain-affected drawn Test in Sydney this week, as was Travis Head.
Selectors also kept faith with their pace attack of Mitchell Starc,
Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, with veteran Peter Siddle also included.
National selector Trevor Hohns said "there is no doubt the India
series produced some disappointing results" and change was needed, after
four Tests characterised by the failure of any Australian batsmen to
score a century.
"Ultimately Aaron, Peter, Shaun and Mitch have not produced the
performances expected of them with the bat at the Test level," he said.
"They have been given a good opportunity, but have not produced the scores we need."
He added, however, that the door was not closed and they must now
prove themselves again in domestic cricket and the one-day series
against India this month.
Pucovski was the surprise call-up.
The 20-year-old is one of the brightest batting talents in the
country, scoring a double century for Victoria last year - the first
Australian under-21 to do so since Ricky Ponting.
But he has only played eight first-class matches, and after that
double ton took a break from cricket because of a mental health issue.
"Will Pucovski is an exciting young player who is making his mark in
the Sheffield Shield. He is another player with a track record of making
centuries," said Hohns.
Despite his relative inexperience, Pucovski said he was ready to step up.
"It is every kid's dream. To think that in two weeks' time there is a
chance I would play for my country is amazing. I can't use words to
describe it," he told reporters.
"I can't wait to get up there and in amongst it."
Burns, who has played 14 Tests, has been knocking on the door this
season with Queensland, while Renshaw has been unlucky not to get
another call-up until now, since his last appearance at Johannesburg in
"We see him as a long-term prospect as a Test player and have
confidence in his ability to bounce back following a string of low
scores early in the Shield season," said Hohns of the 22-year-old.
Renshaw, who has a century and three 50s from his 11 Tests, said he
wanted to emulate the exploits of India's rock-solid number three
"Everyone talks about (Virat) Kohli and (Ajinkya) Rahane, but Pujara
was unbelievable and showed how good he was mentally to bat for so
long," he said.
Burns, Renshaw and Pucovski will all play for a Cricket Australia XI
in a pink-ball match against Sri Lanka ahead of the Tests in preparation
for the day-nighter in Brisbane from January 24. The second Test is in
Canberra from February 1.
Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Tim Paine (captain), Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle
Cricket Australia XI:
Joe Burns (captain), Kurtis Patterson, Scott Boland, Jake Doran, Jon Holland, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Will Pucovski, Jason Sangha, Matt Renshaw, Chris Tremain