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Will Pucovski faces 'hard questions' after latest bout with concussion

Cricket Victoria general manager of performance Shaun Graf says long-term view needs to be taken with Pucovksi's health

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Will Pucovski has suffered 11 concussions  •  Getty Images

Will Pucovski has suffered 11 concussions  •  Getty Images

There are serious concerns over Will Pucovski's long-term health following his latest concussion, with Cricket Victoria bracing for a hard discussion with the one-Test batter later this week.
Their general manager of performance Shaun Graf told SEN on Monday that Pucovski's latest concussion was "fairly innocuous" after a volleyball "scraped his face", but it caused the onset of traditional concussion symptoms including a headache and nausea when he took the field on the fourth morning of Victoria's Sheffield Shield match against South Australia.
"Prior to this, he had discussions with the medical staff and they were starting to get worried, obviously with so many concussions even though they are minor now," Graf said. "We're talking with his management. He's got to talk to his manager, his dad, and work out where he wants to be and then have a chat with us but from a sports point of view, obviously, we're really worried.
"It's not just in the short-term but the long-term, so they're all the questions we need to look at. We can't go ahead and keep on playing, and having to always have someone on standby more or less as a concussion substitute. It does throw the team out as well. So we've got to think about how it affects the total structure of our team.
"These are all the hard questions that Will has got to discuss with his dad, his own medical staff and then align that into Cricket Australia's and Cricket Victoria's medical staff."
Pucovski, 24, suffered his 11th career concussion during a pre-warm-up soccer/volleyball game on Saturday, and was subbed out and flown home to Melbourne. He had made a half-century in the first innings on day two. It was his first first-class match since his Test debut in January 2020.
Graf revealed that medical staff were already concerned about Pucovski prior to this incident after he missed three months of cricket late last year following a concussion he suffered while facing throwdowns in the nets in October.
Graf said Cricket Victoria was still keen to give Pucovski every chance to have a long career, and would be as patient as necessary with him but conceded that he may need to take a step back and take a long-term strategy to his recovery.
"I'm certainly in the camp, I want to give the lad every chance to play; he is such a talent," Graf said. "But there does come a point in time where you've got to realise that maybe this is not the go and you've got to have a rest, and really reassess yourself and work out whether or not having some sort of long rest would enable him to get back to full health and then hopefully come back into the game that way.
"Whether that is the decision I'm not certain. Those are the sort of the questions that are being asked now, and it's something that we've got to discuss with Will later on this week.
"Previously when he's had a concussion it's been a month or two months or three months in some cases. With this, it's not a major concussion but I think the overall picture has got to be looked at, and whether or not [he has to be] a long time out of the game where he actually gets away from the game and comes back without this constant pressure of always having concussion hanging over his head, maybe a way of hopefully ridding this situation and getting him back to the game.
"Because he certainly is one of the most talented batters I've seen in my time, and it's so sad to see this happening."
Graf also conceded that retirement is not out of the question given the seriousness of his recurring concussions, although Pucovski remains keen to find a way to continue to play.
"He's realistic, he understands that this is bad and if it keeps going it can't be good for his health long-term," Graf said. "He does understand that. But being a young lad he still wants to play. It is so frustrating for him because of that fact that he knows where he could be if he was fit and able to get through multiple games.
"He's still very much in the corner that he wants to keep playing, and we'll support that. However, if the medical advice is contrary to that, we need to have a very hard discussion."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo