Victorian batting prodigy Will Pucovski believes his mind couldn’t be in a better state as his likely debut Test match at Adelaide Oval draws closer.
The 22-year-old asked to not be selected for last summer’s Test squad that faced Pakistan due to his mental health, while he was also released from the squad that hosted Sri Lanka in the 2018/19 summer to focus on his mental wellbeing.
That followed Pucovski’s first break for mental health reasons ahead of Australia’s Test series against India earlier in the 2018/19 season.
With established opener David Warner unlikely to feature in the first Test against India due to his groin injury, which is set to begin on December 17, Pucovski is likely to finally seize his chance.
If the gun right-hander does, he says he will be in a better position than ever to begin his international career.
“I am as mentally prepared as I can be,” Pucovski said.
“The way I’ve been able to help myself and use certain resources to get to the place I’m in now – and hopefully I keep improving as I go through life and cricket – is something I’m grateful for, to be honest.
“It’s been an interesting few years but it’s been great for me and probably great for others around me as well.”
Pucovski forced his way back into Australia’s Test set-up on the back of consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield in October and November, the first an innings of 255 not out and the second a knock of 202.
When Australia’s international schedule put the 2020/21 Sheffield Shield season on hold early in November, Pucovski (495) was leading former Test cricketer Shaun Marsh (485) and current Test batsman Travis Head (455) on the runs leaderboard.
If Warner’s injury rules him out of the first match, it’s all but confirmed Pucovski and 21-Test batsman Joe Burns will open Australia’s innings.
Despite his battle with mental health, Pucovski says his dream to play Test cricket for Australia has always remained alive.
“Deep down I’ve always loved cricket since I was three years old playing against dad in the backyard,” Pucovski said.
“You have those doubts every now and then (that you won’t make it to the top), but I’ve always backed that I have enough resources and enough things in place to be able to manage what I’ve been dealing with.
“I’m now keen to get out there and really challenge myself at the next level.”
Names like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja make India’s bowling unit one of the most potent in world cricket.
Pucovski said he would relish the opportunity to test himself against the star Indians.
“Challenging yourself at the next level is pretty exciting in itself,” Pucovski said.
“You watch these blokes on TV dominating all around the world and you never think, ‘That could be me facing them one day’, but it could now potentially become a reality.”