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News

Ashes hopes dashed, Will Pucovski aims for a domestic return after BBL

Youngster still suffering concussion symptoms and won't play for Victoria before Christmas

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
17-Nov-2021
Will Pucovski during a practice session  •  Getty Images

Will Pucovski during a practice session  •  Getty Images

Will Pucovski won't play any domestic cricket prior to Christmas after being ruled out of Victoria's final Sheffield Shield clash against New South Wales, starting on Friday at the SCG, as he continues to deal with ongoing concussions symptoms.
Pucovski predictably wasn't named in Australia's 15-man Ashes squad or the Australia A squad having not played at all this summer after being concussed during a throwdowns session while training with Victoria early October.
The 22-year-old is still suffering concussion symptoms over a month later. Pucovski was at the Junction Oval on Wednesday but left the facility while Victoria's Shield squad was training ahead of their flight to Sydney. Victoria coach Chris Rogers confirmed that Pucovski won't play for Victoria until February, once the BBL has concluded.
"Will is just still feeling it a little bit, still a few symptoms," Rogers said on Wednesday.
"So, we felt it's probably better not to rush him into this last game. Give him some time now. There's a bit of a break after this game. And we can look into how we, perhaps, support him through and almost get him ready for the block after the BBL. I think he didn't really even do a pre-season with Victoria just with coming back from the shoulder, so maybe this is the right way to go about it."
Pucovski has not played a single game since his Test debut in January this year. He suffered a dislocated shoulder while fielding against India and subsequently had surgery which ended his season prematurely. He has never played in the BBL and does have a BBL contract.
The BBL is set to begin on December 5 and run through to January 28, leaving Pucovski with no option but to return to playing via premier cricket in Victoria for his club side Melbourne.
"I think he'll probably just see how he can get himself right and play some club cricket," Rogers said. "Whether that's before Christmas or after, and then we'll have a really big block of domestic cricket post the BBL. I think we have five Sheffield Shield games and three one-day domestic games. So hopefully, he can be a part of all those."
Rogers was reluctant to definitively rule Pucovski out of a Test match return before playing again for Victoria, but he was pragmatic.
"I can't see how he can now get the opportunity to show that he is ready to go to play in the Test matches if he was to be playing club cricket and to be picked out of club cricket," Rogers said.
"I'd probably be pretty surprised as a lot of people would, and I think even Will understands that as well. So, I don't have a crystal ball with that. But equally, I think it'd be, it's probably going to be challenging for him to play Test cricket this summer."
Australia chairman of selectors George Bailey confirmed that he simply wanted Pucovski to return to play any form of cricket before they consider him at Test level again.
"He hasn't played any cricket up until this point," Bailey said. "Obviously, it's a really stepped process for him but one it's about getting symptom-free and feeling good physically. And then secondly, it's about just putting together a batch of games. And I think if you look back over his last couple of years, it's been really hard for him to get that body of work together.
"Certainly, in my chats with him, it's just, you know, first and foremost, get yourself right and look after yourself. And then secondly, I'm not that concerned about what he's playing. I'd love to see him playing some grade cricket. I'd love to see him playing some state cricket. I just love to see him playing a lot of cricket and really getting some confidence that he can put together a string of games."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo