Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson have been named in Victoria's Sheffield Shield squad to face New South Wales at the MCG starting Friday after receiving medical clearance to return following a break to treat mental health and well-being issues.
Both Pucovski and Maddinson had taken breaks from the game within a space of six days earlier this month, just after Glenn Maxwell opted out of the T20I series against Sri Lanka for the same reason. Maddinson and Maxwell returned to club cricket in Melbourne over the last weekend, with positive returns.
Both Pucovski and Maddinson trained with the Victoria squad on Wednesday at the MCG while Maxwell did a running session. Cricket Victoria general manager Shaun Graf confirmed that both Pucovski and Maddinson had been cleared to play; however, Maxwell has not been cleared yet.
"We are looking forward to having Nic and Will back playing for Victoria after receiving clearance from our medical staff," Graf said. "We'll continue to support all our players through their return to play."
Victoria team-mate and Australia's T20I captain Aaron Finch has been in constant contact with Maxwell during his time out of the game including after his return to club cricket on the weekend.
"He was OK. It probably took him a bit longer than he thought to get back into it," Finch said.
"I don't want to speak on his behalf. But no doubt it's going to be a gradual process to get back, and whether that's next week, or next month or next year I think it's something that with the amount of awareness around mental health and stuff like that these days I think that you have to be mindful of the player making the right decision in their best interest and not trying to rush them back for a particular game or set a defined date on it. I think it's just a case-by-case scenario.
"I know in Maxy's case a lot of the time he passed it off as tiredness and [being] run down from the game. A lot of the time's there's more to it than that."
Fast bowler James Pattinson was also named in the 13-man squad, subject to being released from the Test squad, after missing the Gabba Test against Pakistan through suspension.
Marcus Harris also returned for Victoria having missed their last Shield match because of Australia A duty.
Victoria chairman of selectors Andrew Lynch was pleased to have a few big names back into the side as the defending Shield champions currently sit bottom of the table without a win in four games. "To bring Marcus Harris, Nic Maddinson, Will Pucovski and potentially James Pattinson back into the squad is really positive as we move into the final two Shield matches before the [BBL] break," Lynch said. "We're now looking to get some results on the board to put ourselves in a better position for the second half of the season."
Victoria left out recent debutant Jake Fraser-McGurk and Eamonn Vines. Fraser-McGurk, 17, remarkably will play for Victoria at the national Under-19s championships in Perth just a week after making half-centuries on both Sheffield Shield and List A debut.
Victoria are also without acting head coach Lachie Stevens who is on paternity leave. Former Victoria and Australia batsman Brad Hodge has been called in as a short-term senior assistant coach for the game against New South Wales in Stevens' absence.
Squad: Peter Handscomb (capt), Andrew Fekete, Aaron Finch, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Jon Holland, Nic Maddinson, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Matthew Short, Peter Siddle, Will Sutherland, Chris Tremain