Sheffield Shield 2021-22 – Will Pucovski in race against time to make Ashes squad after latest concussion

Sheffield Shield 2021-22 – Will Pucovski in race against time to make Ashes squad after latest concussion



Chris Rogers said the batter is “pretty positive” after the latest setback and last season showed what he can do

Victoria coach Chris Rogers believes Will Pucovski can still play himself into the opening Ashes Test, despite missing the team’s first Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales due to his latest concussion, although questions remain about how the multiple knocks could impact his career.
Pucovski’s latest concussion – adding to a long list dating back to when he was a teenager – occurred during nets earlier this month and was said to be on the minor end but he won’t make the trip to Sydney at the weekend.
Pucovski was already recovering from the shoulder reconstruction he underwent following his Test debut in January. His throwing continues to be hampered but, until the concussion, he was on course to play in domestic cricket.

It is hoped he will be available for the return fixture against New South Wales at the MCG next month and then potentially the third Shield game the two states are looking to pencil in during November, although for anyone selected in the Test squad there will be quarantine periods in Queensland to factor in.

Earlier this week, 25-year-old Derbyshire wicketkeeper-batter Harvey Hosein was forced to retire from the game on medical advice due to multiple concussions. Pucovski continues to consult with specialists and Rogers said he was feeling “pretty positive” about his latest recovery.

“It’s a good question,” Rogers said when asked when there are too many blows. “Nothing that I can really answer. He sees specialists so they’ll be talking to him about that and obviously, that’s got to play a role at some stage but at the moment, he’s still keen to continue on.

“He’s been through this before, he knows what it’s like. He’s a pretty resilient guy now. If you go through this many setbacks you’ve got to have something about you. He’s going alright. Yesterday when I spoke to him, he seemed pretty positive so that’s all I can say.”

Rogers believes Pucovski’s performances last season, where he scored back-to-back double hundreds and then earned a Test debut against India after another recovery from concussion, will stand him in good stead.

He said the selectors, which from next month will include new member Tony Dodemaide, will want to be assured there are no concerns against the short ball but one big score could earn him a spot alongside David Warner at the top of the order. The India Test was the last competitive game Pucovski played.

“He’s shown before he can hit the ground running as he did last year with the two 200s, so if he’s good enough to do something like that again then the selectors would definitely have something to consider,” Rogers said. “He’s one of those players there’s an element of class. You know when you throw balls at him that it’s different.”

Test captain Tim Paine said fellow Victoria opener Marcus Harris, who is the incumbent in the Test side after playing against India at the Gabba in January, would be the frontrunner if Pucovski wasn’t available. But Usman Khawaja, who averages 96.80 in the five Tests he has opened, made a strong statement with 174 against South Australia.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo


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