The scintillating first-class form of Victorian batsman Will Pucovski shows he is ready for Test selection, Ian Chappell says.
- Will Pucovski has scored 457 runs at the top of the order for Victoria so far this season
- Pucovski withdrew from Test selection last season due to mental health issues
- Ian Chappell says Pucovski, Mitch Swepson and Cameron Green should be in contention for a Test start this summer
Pucovski scored 255 not out in his first Sheffield Shield innings of the summer for Victoria as part of a record opening partnership and then backed up that performance with another double century (202) — the third of his short first-class career — against Western Australia in the match underway in Adelaide.
Chappell, speaking before Pucovski completed his second double century of the Shield season, said the 22-year-old’s timely move to the top of the order, coupled with his exceptional form, made a compelling case.
“What’s that now? Six or seven first-class centuries? That includes a couple of double [centuries]. He’s ready,” Chappell told ABC Sport on Sunday.
“I don’t know whose idea it was to open for Victoria … he must have at least agreed to it anyhow.
Pucovski’s innings against Western Australia meant he became the first Australian to score back-to-back first-class double centuries since Michael Clarke achieved the feat in consecutive Test matches against South Africa in 2012.
He hit 27 fours in his 347-ball knock in Adelaide and now has an average of 457 for the Shield season and is currently the highest run scorer in the competition, despite playing just two innings.
Chappell, a former Australian captain, said the form of incumbent Test opener Burns — who has scored just 36 runs in three innings this season — meant that Pucovski was in the box seat to partner David Warner when the four-Test series against India starts on December 17 in Adelaide.
“Burns has made not many runs at all in this summer and there comes a time where you think to yourself, ‘well, where is Burns going?’,” he said.
“He’s probably not going anywhere, really, and it’s time to have a look at Pucovski.”
Mental health has to be priority for players in bubble
Pucovski was in line to make his debut last summer, but withdrew from the squad to face Pakistan “due to matters pertaining to mental wellbeing”.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing players into a bubble environment, Chappell noted that officials will need to be aware of players’ mental health over the course of what he expects to be an intense series.
“It was interesting to read [Indian captain] Virat Kohli’s comments about how they’re going to have to be careful in future about players’ mental health,” Chappell said.
“It must be difficult for the players because you need to wind down every now and again and get away from the cricket.
“It’s going to be difficult, and certainly the administrators need to be very, very careful of the mental health of the players.”
Swepson, Green also in contention
Chappell did not stop at Pucovski, adding Mitch Swepson and Cameron Green into the mix off the back of their impressive Shield form.
Queensland leggy Swepson has taken 15 wickets so far this Shield campaign, the most of any player in the competition.
Western Australia batsman Cameron Green has 307 runs so far this campaign, with a top score of 197.
“I’d like to see, definitely Pucovski play, I’d like to see [Mitch] Swepson in the side at some point, obviously the Sydney Test I think, would be a chance for two spinners.
“And Cameron Green, if he keeps making runs at first class level, I think I’d like to see him at some stage get a game for Australia.
“If you’ve made seven first-class centuries, two of them doubles, you’re ready.”