The Surrey 22-year-old fast bowler replaces injured Craig Overton, who succumbed to a rib injury when the tourists relinquished the Ashes to the Australians in last week’s third Perth Test.
Curran has played three Twenty20s and a one-day international and was not originally chosen in England’s Ashes touring squad.
But he got his chance when Steve Finn left the tour early with knee cartilage problems and now has a Test opportunity following Overton’s injury setback.
Captain Joe Root said he was backing Curran to make the most of his opportunity in the showpiece Boxing Day Test before huge crowds.
“Tom offers a lot and is a real competitor,” Root told reporters when announcing the team on Monday.
“He has that real sort of work ethic and the way he goes about things is very similar to Craig (Overton) actually.
“The way he gets involved in the contest and you know he is going to get involved in absolutely everything. He’s also very skillful and hopefully he can have a really good week here.”
Curran won the Test nod ahead of Mark Wood and Jake Ball.
Wood is nearing full fitness after touring with the England Lions, while Ball struggled in his only Test appearance on tour in Brisbane.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Root said.
“We certainly had a little while thinking about it on this surface and these conditions. For the balance of this team I think Tom is the best option.”
Curran took 24 wickets in nine first-class matches during the 2017 English County season at an average of 34.
South African-born Curran played for England in the tour game against a Cricket Australia XI in Perth on December 10, where he took five match wickets and made an unbeaten 77.
Apart from Curran’s selection, under-fire senior players Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad held their team spots, while out-of-sorts Moeen Ali was preferred to young leg-spinner Mason Crane as the sole spinner.
England – Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Joe Root (capt), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Tom Curran, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
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