England have called up Eoin Morgan to take the place of Paul Collingwood in a 12-man squad for Thursday's first Test against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.
Middlesex batsman Morgan was preferred to Ravi Bopara, whose ability to play as a fifth bowler had him as favourite.
Morgan, who made 193 for England Lions against the tourists, is named along with county colleague Steven Finn.
"This is an opportunity for him to cement his place," national selector Geoff Miller told BBC Radio 5 live.
"Obviously there are one or two others, as we've always said we wanted, knocking on the door, but on this occasion Eoin got the nod.
"We've got a lot of players now who are just on the fringe there, in all areas with bat and ball and with the [wicketkeeping] gloves as well. There's plenty of opportunities for people to get in, but it's difficult because we will always be consistent."
Collingwood retired from Test cricket in January, following England's Ashes success in Australia, opening up a spot in England's middle order.
Dublin-born Morgan made his Test debut against Bangladesh last summer and went on to make 130 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.
The selectors kept faith with him for the winter tour to Australia but he was unable to force his way into the side during the Ashes series despite Collingwood's poor form, remaining as the squad's spare batsman.
Despite his first-innings 193 for the second-string Lions, he fell cheaply in the second innings, scoring only four.
Essex's Bopara was seen by many commentators as the more likely to fill the void left by Collingwood's retirement because he can provide medium-paced seam bowling back-up - a role the Durham man regularly performed for England.
However, despite his prolific start to the summer with Essex, he only made 17 against Sri Lanka for the Lions, while Morgan rose spectacularly to the occasion to secure his place in the Test squad.
"Ravi was disappointed; I want him to be disappointed," said Miller. "He's still in our thinking, very much so.
"It's not the end of the world for him, but he's got to put in some really consistent performances now.
"We're trying to pick the best side to win Test matches for England...there wasn't quite enough there for him to overtake what we originally thought."
Morgan's inclusion means that England will have to rely on a four-man attack, with part-time bowlers Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen perhaps able to supply a few overs as back-up, if needed.
James Anderson, Chris Tremlett, the fit-again Stuart Broad and Finn will compete for the three seam bowling places available, having taken 57 wickets between them in the Ashes series last winter.
Finn lost his place after the third Ashes Test in Perth but created a vacancy in the squad and he has been preferred to the likes of Ajmal Shahzad and Graham Onions.
England are currently number three in the International Cricket Council rankings, but have their sights set on supplanting India, who will tour later in the summer, as number one.
"To be number one in the world in international cricket is very tough, and you need tough players to be playing in the side. We feel we've got tough players in the side and one or two tough players on the edge as well," Miller added.
"This summer will show us exactly where we are because we're playing against Sri Lanka, who are obviously a very good international side, and then playing against the side who are number one, India, but we are quietly confident."
When Sri Lanka last played Test cricket in England in 2006 the series ended in a 1-1 draw - the tourists winning the final Test by 134 at Nottingham when spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, now retired from international cricket, took 8-70 in the second innings.
England squad for first Test:
AJ Strauss (Middlesex, captain), JM Anderson (Lancashire), IR Bell (Warwickshire), SCJ Broad (Nottinghamshire), AN Cook (Essex), ST Finn (Middlesex), EJG Morgan (Middlesex), KP Pietersen (Surrey), MJ Prior (Sussex, wk), GP Swann (Nottinghamshire), CT Tremlett (Surrey), IJL Trott (Warwickshire).