Pucovski steps out of Test selection race

Will Pucovski will not be available for Test selection, after informing team officials on Tuesday of his need to focus on his mental wellbeing

Victoria batsman Will Pucovski has removed himself from Australia's selection mix for the first Domain Test against Pakistan, citing a renewed focus on his mental wellbeing. 

The 21-year-old was shaping as a potential selection in a 14-man squad to be named on Thursday, after a strong start to the Sheffield Shield and selection in an Australia A side which met Pakistan in a three-day tour match at Perth Stadium.

Pucovski informed team officials on Tuesday evening he would not seek a position in the Australian Test side.

"We applaud Will for having the courage to discuss his situation with team management in Perth,” Cricket Australia EGM of National Teams Ben Oliver said.

"Will’s decision not to nominate for Test selection was the right one in the circumstances and one that everyone in the Australian cricket family supports.

"Mental health is a complex issue that unfortunately impacts many young men and women in our society. By Will bravely taking this position, he will undoubtedly inspire others facing similar challenges to speak up and take positive steps towards improving their mental well-being."

"The most important thing now is for Will to be given the time, space and expert support that he needs to return to full health as soon as possible."

"I speak on behalf of everyone in Australian cricket when I say we wish Will the very best in his recovery."

Oct 11: Pucovski powers his way to century for Vics

Pucovski was one of a host of players in a race for what looked to be two available spots in Australia's batting order ahead of the Gabba Test, which begins next Thursday. The 21-year-old does however have a history of mental health-related issues, having pulled out of first-class cricket with Victoria at the front end of the 2018-19 season, before withdrawing from the Test squad that took on Sri Lanka in January-February.

The right-hander, who impressed with Australia A in England during the winter, began the Shield season brightly with 123 against South Australia, and seemed optimistic about the manner in which he was managing his mental health. 

"I'm going well," he said. "I've got a lot of structures in place, which is really good. I can count on them when the time comes. It's an ongoing thing that I'm trying to improve as much as I can, as often as I can.

"I'm really looking forward to the summer ahead, which is good and probably a different view from 12 months ago. When you compare the two, you go, 'I'm in a pretty good place compared to where I was 12 months ago', which means I'm doing everything right in that field."

Australia coach Justin Langer last month said Pucovski was "well and truly in the discussion" for a Test spot.

"I watched him bat the other day, he's got so much time," Langer told SEN in late October. "I really like the look of him.

"He's young, he's making lots of runs, he's averaging 50 in domestic first-class cricket. He's had his struggles and keeps coming up with a smile on his face.

"If he keeps making runs and batting like he is … all the stories coming out of Australia A and more importantly Victoria, the people love how he goes about his business. So he's certainly well and truly in the discussion."

Pucovski is the third Victoria player in recent weeks to take time away from cricket on the grounds of mental health, with Nic Maddinson and Glenn Maxwell both currently out of action.

If you or someone you know needs support, visit https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Domain Test Series v Pakistan

Australia squad: TBC

Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.

Warm-up match: v Australia A, November 11-13, Perth Stadium (d/n)

Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground

First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)

Second Test: November 29 – December 3, Adelaide (d/n) (Seven, Fox & Kayo)