Though there are no doubts over the batting prodigy’s ability, but if Pucovski was to make his debut in the New Year’s Test he will not have played a game in close to a month.
Batting coach Andrew McDonald, formerly Pucovski’s state coach, is adamant the batsman can fire first-up based on his record, but his ability to handle the psychological challenges is complex and sensitive.
He has taken time out of the game three times in the past two years citing mental wellbeing issues relating to concussion.
“[I] think there will be a bit of trust put into the player around whether he’s mentally ready and clearly it will be up to the coach once he lays eyes on him to see where he’s at in terms of being skill ready,” McDonald said.
“That’s the other thing, too, there’s always a question around whether you’re mentally ready or physically meet the protocols, but is he actually ready, skill ready on the back of a short preparation?
“It will be the first time, if he was selected, that he would be going from first-class into the Test arena, which is always a difficult leap for players to make.
“There’s a few ways there for the selection panel to consider but history would suggest that he says he’s right to perform, he’s done it a few times and had a good return, so [I] suggest there will be trust put into the player if he was considered.”
If Warner and Pucovski both prove their fitness, the pair could form a new opening combination, which would allow Matthew Wade to slip down the order, possibly at the expense of Travis Head.
There were murmurs the duo were the selectors’ first-choice openers after Joe Burns’ run of outs in the Sheffield Shield before injury struck. Should both fail to prove their fitness, Victoria’s Marcus Harris would likely come into the XI to replace Burns. A pairing of Warner-Wade is also some chance.
“There’s a few moving parts there to work through and on the second and third I think we’ll get some real clarity on where everyone is at,” McDonald said.
“And the earlier the selection panel or the head coach can make that decision they’ll be looking to make it as early as possible to settle things down as well.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald