On Thursday, Will Pucovski became the 460th Australian Test cricketer. The highly rated 22 year old, who would have made his debut earlier in the ongoing series vs India if it had not been for a concussion that he suffered in a warm up match, has so far shown just why former greats have been calling for his inclusion in the Australian playing XI. He looked calm and composed on Test debut. Though his technique is not flawless and the pitch at the SCG is batting friendly, Puckovski was impressive on debut.
In November last year Pucovski became the first cricketer in this century to score consecutive double centuries in the Sheffield Shield and the first Victorian to achieve that feat since Dean Jones in 1991.
His has been a domestic career of great highs dotted with multiple concussions suffered in different matches at different times. If not for mental health issues and a number of concussions at a rather early age he would have possibly made his Test debut much earlier.
Before the Sydney Test Australian Head coach Justin Langer said – “…the real heartening thing for him is that while he’s had a few concussions in the past, and they’re different, they’ve come in different ways….It’s not necessarily going to have any long-term impact on him….I think if you can put your mind at rest with that, then that’s a real positive for him.”
Pucovski was given two lives by Indian wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant on Day 1 of the Sydney Test vs India and the 22 year old made the most of those chances, notching up a fine fifty on Test debut, before falling to Navdeep Saini for 62 off 110 balls. His contribution went a long way in ensuring that Australia ended Day 1 in a strong position at 166/2.
From whatever we have seen so far Pucovski’s inclusion might go a long way in solving Australia’s top order problems.
Here’s a quick look at some of Pucovski’s career highlights that catapulted him to the national team:
Full name: William Jan Pucovski
Born: February 2, 1998 in Malvern, Victoria
First Class career: Innings: 36; Runs: 1744: HS: 255*; 100s: 6; 50s: 5
List A career: Innings: 10; Runs: 264; HS: 137; 100: 1; 50: 1
January 2017: Made his professional debut
Made his List A debut in a Tour match in Brisbane for a Cricket Australia XI vs Pakistan. Scored 10 off 22 balls before falling to Hasan Ali.
February 2017: First Class debut
Made his Sheffield Shield debut for Victoria vs New South Wales. Made 28 in the first innings and then suffered a concussion after being hit on the head.
February 2018: Maiden First Class century
Scored 188 off 414 balls vs Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. He was batting at number four here and hit 25 fours before being caught and bowled by Mitchell Swepson. It was a run feast at the MCG and the match ended in a draw. Marnus Labuschagne scored an unbeaten 100 in the Queensland second innings, but Puckovski was adjudged Man of the match.
October 2018: First Double ton
Scored 243 off 311 balls, with 30 fours vs Western Australia in Perth. Became the ninth player to score a Sheffield Shield double century before his 21st birthday. In this match he was batting at number 3 and had a strike rate of 78.14. Shortly after he took a break for mental health reasons.
January 2019: Maiden Test call-up
Received his maiden Test call up for a series vs Sri Lanka at home, but was not played in the first two matches. He then took another break to manage his mental health before the third Test. He returned to action a few weeks later to score a century. Victoria went on to clinch the Shield title.
February 2019: Won the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year award
Won this prestigious award at the age of 21 after receiving 46% of the votes from his playing peers to finish ahead of the likes of Billy Stanlake and Gabe Bell. Became the 20th Australian cricketer to win this award. Previous winners include the likes of Brett Lee, Shane Watson and David Warner.
November 2019: Another break
Made himself unavailable for Test selection on mental health grounds. Cricket Australia fully supported his decision.
October-November 2020: Back to back double tons
Made headlines once again scoring back to back double hundreds in the Sheffield Shield. His first double ton was a 255* vs South Australia in Adelaide. It was a knock that had 27 fours and one six. He was also involved in a tournament record 486 run opening wicket stand with Marcus Harris (239). His second double century was a 202 run knock vs Western Australia. It was a 347 ball knock and had 27 fours, at a strike rate of 58.21.
December 2020: Yet another concussion
Primed to make his Test debut vs India in the ongoing series after being named in the Australian squad, Pucovski incredibly picked up another concussion in a warm-up match when he was hit on the helmet by a Kartk Tyagi bouncer. Couldn’t play the first two Tests.
January 2021: Half century on debut
The very talented opening batsman finally became the 260th Test cricketer for Australia when he received the baggy green from Australian assistant coach Andrew McDonald ahead of the third Test vs India at the SCG. Pucovski survived a few dropped chances and a potential run out to score 62 on Test debut, before falling to another debutant Navdeep Saini. He shared a 100 run partnership with Marnus Labuschagne.