Domain Tests v Sri Lanka

‘I’m feeling as good as I have in a long time’

Will Pucosvki confident he can handle the pressure of Test cricket after taking a break due to mental illness

AAP & Cricket Network

9 January 2019, 07:02 PM AEST

Pucovski bolts into Test squad to play SL

Batting prodigy Will Pucovski is confident he's equipped for the rigours of Test cricket, having earned a shock Australian call-up after seeking treatment for a mental health issue.

Pucovski, 20, has been named in Australia's 13-man squad for the Domain Test series against Sri Lanka in a stunning ascent after just eight first-class games.

The Victorian has been on national selectors' radar since he plundered 650 runs at 162.50 in the national under-19 championships, an achievement he quickly followed by making his first-class debut in the JLT Sheffield Shield.

Pucovski was ruled out of Shield action and revealed to be battling a mental health-related illness in October, days after scoring 243 against Western Australia.

Hohns speaks on SL Test selections

Three months later he is on the cusp of his Test debut, having made his Shield return against WA last month.

Pucovski has worked closely with mindfulness coach Emma Murray – who has worked with the Richmond and St Kilda clubs in the Australian Football League - and is confident the investment in his mental health will help him to handle the pressures of Test cricket.

"I'm feeling really good, as good as I have felt in a really long time," he said.

“I feel like I’m in a really good space and the people I’m working with think so as well.

"It's one of those things where it is a day-by-day proposition for me that I have to manage. I think it is a good thing to invest time in.

"I am meditating every morning, which I honestly never really believed in until (Murray) got me on to it and things like that have helped me really turn things around.

"I was able to play that Shield game (last month) and loved every minute of it. I feel like I am back in action."

Selector Trevor Hohns acknowledged Pucovski’s rapid rise through the Pathways system, adding he was confident the 20-year-old can handle the pressure of top-level cricket.

“We obviously check on our players these days, we get reports - whether it’s Will or anybody else - medical reports and all reports are that he is fine and available to play,” Hohns said in Sydney.

“Obviously around the team environment, that becomes a management issue with the coach, team manager and players around him as well.

“But right now, we don't have an issue with that at all.”

Pucovski opened up on his mental health in a recent Fox Cricket podcast, which he said he wanted to do to try and help other sufferers.

“It was brought on by myself, it wasn’t necessarily encouraged by anyone,” he said. “It was definitely important for me. I just wanted to get it out there.

“The main thing for me talking about it, in case there are other people going through it.

“Whether that helps one person or 100 people, it’s one more person could get the help they need and turn things in the right direction.”

Along with Joe Burns, Matthew Renshaw and Marnus Labuschagne, Pucovski will press his case for Test selection in next week's tour game against Sri Lanka.

The fixture will provide a valuable chance for Pucovski - whose only other taste of day-night cricket came during a tour game against England last summer - to acclimatise to the pink ball that will be used during the first Test in Brisbane.

Pucovski was at club training on Tuesday night when the name of national selection chairman Trevor Hohns flashed up on his phone, delivering news that came considerably earlier in his career than he had been expecting.

"My heart probably skipped a few beats," he said.

"If I get a game it'd be amazing and if not, it'd still be awesome to be part of the squad. Either way, I'm a pretty happy 20-year-old kid today."

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Domain Test Series v Sri Lanka

Australia: Tim Paine (c/wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha

CA XI: Joe Burns (c), Kurtis Patterson (vc), Scott Boland, Jake Doran (wk), Jon Holland, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Will Pucovski, Jason Sangha, Matt Renshaw, Chris Tremain

Jan 17-19: Tour match, CA XI v SL, Hobart (D/N)

Jan 24-28: First Test, Gabba (D/N)

Feb 1-5: Second Test, Canberra