Will Pucovski, the 20-year-old batsman from Victoria, earned his maiden Test call-up on Wednesday, 9 January for the two-match series against Sri Lanka. But who is he?
Pucovski made his first-class debut in February 2017, and has since notched impressive numbers in the circuit – he has 588 runs from eight matches at 49 with two centuries and one half-century.
His potential was evident during a magnificent 243 in Perth against Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match in October 2018, and the knock propelled him ahead of his peers to the radar of the national selectors.
Australia include uncapped Will Pucovski, recall Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns in squad for Test series against Sri Lanka!— ICC (@ICC) January 9, 2019
SQUAD: Paine (c), Hazlewood, Burns, Cummins, Harris, Head, Khawaja, Labuschagne, Lyon, Pucovski, Renshaw, Starc, Siddle pic.twitter.com/g2jwRHvPuM
Pucovski burst on to the scenes as an 18-year-old, captaining Vic Metro in Cricket Australia's yearly Under-19 championship, accumulating 650 runs at 162.50 with four centuries and one half-century.
However, the path to the Test call-up had plenty of obstacles. After that knock of 243 in October, Pucovski was forced to take a six-week break from the sport owing to a mental-health related illness.
He remembers speaking to one of his coaches at Victoria, Lachie Stevens, despite scoring an unbeaten half-century by stumps on the first day of that match.
"It was one of those things where what it looked like from the outside wasn’t quite matching up with what it was on the inside … I was more confused than at any other time in my life," Pucovski told The Follow-On podcast.
"I was 64 not out overnight if I remember. I got to the game to have my pre-morning hit in the nets and pulled one of the coaches, Lachie Stevens, aside and said ‘look mate, this is what I’m going through. I don’t really understand what’s going on and don’t know why it’s happening but this is what’s happening.'"
Thankfully for Pucovski, he received "beyond awesome" support from his team-mates and coaches, and that helped accumulate a further 179 runs on the second day and set-up and innings victory for the team.
"Looking back now, if we’d won that Test, win Perth, we got outplayed in Melbourne, then a washout it could have been 2-1 the other way."— ICC (@ICC) January 7, 2019
Tim Paine rued missed chances in Adelaide as they lost a Test series to India at home for the first time.
➡️ https://t.co/2YzuiEYoYs pic.twitter.com/wpMDPN3XK3
That double-century also made him the first Australian batsman to hit a Shield double ton before turning 21 since Ricky Ponting.
He has now returned from his six-week break and impressed in his last Shield game, a home fixture against Western Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with a second-innings 67.
The double-ton might have thrust him into the limelight but Pucovski's ascent in Shield cricket started with a brilliant 188 against Queensland in just his second Shield match in February 2018. He also scored a double hundred in Under-23 cricket last year, smashing an unbeaten 207* against Western Australia.
"I'm feeling really good, as good as I have felt in a really long time," Pucovski is quoted as saying by cricket.com.au. "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 (Emma Murray, mindfulness coach) 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."
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