Invincible Victorian Will Pucovski sealed Test squad selection with a masterpiece ton against Western Australia, as incumbent opener Joe Burns’ run drought continued in Adelaide.
Unbeaten Pucovski’s sixth first-class century (183) at Karen Rolton Oval followed an undefeated, career-best 255 against South Australia last week, as the race intensifies for Test spots in the final Sheffield Shield round before Australia faces India.
Former Australian skipper Kim Hughes believes Pucovski should open with David Warner in the Test series against India starting in Adelaide next month. Queenslander Burns is averaging 11.5 across four innings with a top score of 29 this season.
“He seems to have got those mental challenges sorted out. I would pick Pucovski,” Hughes told ABC Grandstand.
“He is in a good space”.
Forced to cool his heels for two weeks in quarantine due to Victoria’s prolonged COVID-19 crisis, Pucovski has required just two knocks to cannon into first Test contention. Promoted to open by coach Chris Rogers this season, Pucovski leads the Shield run tally with 438 runs while Test batsman Travis Head is second on 418 at 83.
Pucovski took 22 balls to score then never looked back, exhibiting time in shot selection reserved for the game’s elite. Severe off his pads, Pucovski’s bevy of cuts and pulls left a WA attack, deprived of rested Ashton Agar, with no riposte as Victoria finished 1/322 on the opening day. Skipper Peter Handscomb (49) resumes a 136-run partnership with Pucovski having been dropped on 31 by Cam Bancroft at second slip off Cameron Gannon.
William Pucovski of Victoria.Source:Getty Images
The beauty of Pucovski for national selectors is an ability to bat anywhere in the top six as they compile an extended 17-man Test squad for the Border-Gavaskar series. Pucovski eluded the WA field striking 25 boundaries.
Marcus Harris (71) was again overshadowed despite posting an opening stand of 186 with Pucovski which was well short of their Sheffield Shield record stand of 486 against the Redbacks last round. Harris exited to a catch of the season contender from a flying, diving Sam Whiteman off Matt Kelly.
Uncapped prodigies – Pucovski and exciting all-rounder Cameron Green – were watched closely by chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns who was surrounded by an array of notebooks and a trusty computer. Green will be a “world class” all-rounder and should occupy a middle order slot at Matthew Wade’s expense says Hughes.
Green (0-15, eight overs), with 307 runs at 76 this season, has just resumed bowling from back stress fractures but was sharp and the pick of WA’s attack. Green’s effortless action delivered from a 200cm height troubled Harris in the first session. WA skipper Shaun Marsh would have bowled Green more if not for the 21-year-old’s bowling restriction.
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