Vodafone Men's Ashes
Idle Pucovski sees Ashes hopes drift away
Out of action since shoulder surgery last February and still suffering effects from concussion in late October, Will Pucovski's hopes of featuring in Test cricket this summer appear to have slipped him by
17 November 2021, 03:20 PM AEST
Will Pucovski seemingly won't play any part in the Vodafone Ashes after selectors conceded it was "unlikely" the young batter would play enough cricket in time to return to the Test side this summer.
The 23-year-old is yet to play this season after suffering his latest concussion setback when he was struck in the head during pre-season training in October.
The prodigious batting talent had been earmarked to return for Victoria's second Marsh Sheffield Shield match against NSW last week at the MCG, and then a Second XI clash that started on Monday, but he failed to recover in time.
The young opener doesn't have a KFC BBL contract and with Victoria's last match before Big Bash break being a Marsh One-Day Cup match next Wednesday, the only cricket Pucovski could play between then and the end of the Ashes would be for his club side Melbourne in Victorian Premier Cricket.
National selection panel chair George Bailey said it was unlikely the right-hander would feature in the Ashes as he hadn't played any cricket since his Test debut last January.
"For one, it's about him getting him symptom-free and feeling good physically, and then secondly it's about putting together a batch of games," Bailey said after the announcement of Australia's 15-player squad for the first two Ashes Tests.
"If you look back over his last couple of years, it's been really hard for him to get that body of work together.
"I'd love to see him playing some grade cricket, I'd love to see him playing some state cricket, I'd just love to see him playing a lot of cricket and really getting some confidence that he can put together a string of games."
Bailey added Pucovski was not locked in to open the batting in the first Test even before his latest concussion setback having also had a long recovery from off-season shoulder injury.
"We just haven't seen him play, so no, he wasn't," Bailey said.
"He was recovering from pretty serious shoulder surgery and obviously he's had the head knock too.
"I'm not discounting the fact of how talented he is, and (with him) being fit and playing, that might have looked a bit different."
Victoria coach Chris Rogers also conceded it would be difficult for Pucovski to play Test cricket this summer given he would have to be picked straight out of Premier cricket due to the mid-season break for the Big Bash.
The former Australia opener said they were taking cautious approach and didn't want to rush the 23-year-old back into Victoria's next Shield game at the SCG on Friday.
"I can't see how he can now get the opportunity to show that he is ready to play in the Test matches if he was to be playing club cricket," Rogers said.
"To be picked out of club cricket I'd probably be pretty surprised, as a lot of people would. I think even Will understands that … it's probably going to be challenging for him to play Test cricket this summer."
Rogers said Pucovski would try and get himself right to play club cricket before or after Christmas in preparation for Victoria's jam-packed second half of the season, which leads into Australia's Test tour of Pakistan in March.
"We'll have a really big block of domestic cricket post the BBL - five Sheffield Shield games and three one-day domestic games," Rogers said.
"Hopefully he can be a part of all those."
Australia's Ashes squad: Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
Australia A players: Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Nic Maddinson, Mitchell Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Bryce Street
Vodafone Men's Ashes v England
Nov 23-25: England v England Lions, Brisbane
Nov 30 – Dec 3: England v England Lions, Brisbane
Dec 1-3: Australian intra-squad match, Brisbane
Dec 9-12: Australia A v England Lions, Brisbane
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium