Will Pucovski has long been touted as Australia’s next great batsman.
And now, the 22-year-old is on the cusp of a Test debut, called up to Australia’s squad to face India this summer.
He backed it up with another double century (202) — the third of his short first-class career — against Western Australia in Adelaide.
He joins fellow youngster, 21-year-old West Australian Cameron Green, to be named in the 17-man extended squad.
Selectors today said they could not ignore Pucovski’s recent form.
“His ability to show such patience is something which stands him in good stead for Test cricket and he is in rare company with two double centuries to start the summer,” National selector Trevor Hohns said.
However, his career has not been short of its challenges since he made his first class debut in 2017.
Pucovski has battled multiple concussions from blows to the head, and has been open about the mental health issues that led to his withdrawal from Test selection last year.
In 2018, when Pucovski was just 20, he also took a mental health break from the game amid speculation he would get a Test call-up.
Selectors said Pucovski had given them every indication that he’s ready to play for Australia.
“Obviously we do checks on players’ health and wellbeing. Will’s good to go, hopefully he’ll be there all the way through [the series],” Hohns said.
Australian greats say ‘he’s ready’
Pucovksi is one of only nine players, including Sir Donald Bradman and Ricky Ponting, to score a Shield double century before turning 21.
Australian cricket greats, including Ian Chappell, were among those recently to call for the youngster’s inclusion against India.
“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.
His recent record partnership of 486 runs with Marcus Harris also passed the 30-year-old Sheffield Shield partnership of 464 runs set by Steve and Mark Waugh for NSW in 1990.
It stands as the highest Australian first-class partnership since the competition started in 1892.
‘I’ve been backing my instincts’
After reaching his second double century in as many games, Pucovski this week said he was pleased he has been able to perform after working hard on his craft in pre-season.
“Obviously you don’t get a chance to make 200 very often so when you’re in that kind of position it’s sort of that inner burning competitiveness that’s in you,” he said.
“The more I can do that more regularly, I think the results will hopefully come.”
And while the pressure of an Australian Test call-up remains, he said he has learned to deal with the outside noise.
“I’ve deleted pretty much every cricket app and most social media things off my phone,” he said.
“It’s probably something completely out of my control so all I can do is sort of present myself everyday and hopefully do well.”
Australia will take on India at Adelaide Oval in the first day/night Test on December 17 with selectors to make the call on who starts in Adelaide closer to the game.
Squad: Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Tim Paine (c), James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner.