Melbourne, Jan 9 : After loosing its first-ever home Test series to India, Australian selectors dropped Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb , Mitchell Marsh and Shaun Marsh on Wednesday from the 13-man squad for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka, starting from January 24 at Brisbane Gabba.
Twenty-year-old Victorian batsman Will Pucovski has got a maiden international call-up, he plundered 243 against Western Australia in October — his second first-class ton — but then took six weeks off from cricket for mental health reasons.
Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns also earned a recall in the Aussie squad.
Renshaw played the most recent of his 11 Tests in Johannesburg last March-April, when he was flown in as emergency call following the Cape Town cheating scandal.
Burns meanwhile, has been in strong form, and sits fifth on the season's Shield run-scorers list with 472 runs at 47.20 with four fifties.
The 29-year-old has three Test hundreds to his name in 14 matches, and after being endorsed by Ricky Ponting recently as the 'next man in' to Australia's batting order, said he believed he was playing well enough to handle the demands of international cricket.
All three batsmen will play the pink-ball three-day warm-up match against Sri Lanka from January 17 in Hobart in order to fine-tune their preparations for a possible Test call-up in Brisbane, the summer's lone day-night Test.
Incumbent No.3 Marnus Labuschagne has also been listed in the XI in a practice fixture that may well have some bearing on which batsmen ultimately gain selection in the Test side.
Australia squad for first Test against Sri Lanka: Tim Paine (c/wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle.
Australia will play two-match series with the first Test to be played under floodlights from January 24, followed by second Test at Canberra from Febuary 1.
The omissions of Finch and Mitch Marsh from the squad come following their axings for the fourth Test against India, while a disappointing run of form for Shaun Marsh leaves the 35-year-old's Test future clouded.
National Selection Panel Chair Trevor Hohns, "Ultimately Aaron, Peter, Shaun and Mitch have not produced the performances expected of them with the bat at the Test level," said Hohns, adding that they have been given good opportunity, but have not produced the scores we need.
"All four are very good players, and the door is by no means closed for them to return to play Test cricket for Australia, he said.
Talking about the World Cup preparation, the National Selection Panel Chair said, "They will all feature in the ODI Series against India, and each of them forms an integral part of our white-ball strategy and set-up at the moment as we also focus on our journey to the 2019 Cricket World Cup."
Expressing his view on Will Pucovski, Hohns said, "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.
"We look forward to him joining the squad and congratulate him on his first national call-up," he added.
"Joe Burns has had strong performances in first-class cricket this season, and we believe he can contribute strongly if given the chance in the series," said Trevor Hohns.
Talking about Renshaw, Hohns said, "Matt Renshaw is a player with the ability to make big scores, and as 22 years old has 10 first-class centuries. He also performed extremely well in England during the County season. 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."UNI