The future of Australian cricket looks a little brighter after debutant Will Pucovski brought up his maiden Test half-century at the SCG on Thursday.
The 22-year-old’s classy knock ended in the evening session, trapped by Indian debutant Naveep Saini LBW for 62.
But before his departure, Sydney cricket fans were treated to an early glimpse at what Pucovski has to offer in the Test arena.
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Pucovski has been in the headlines since he plundered consecutive double hundreds for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield earlier this season.
He’s been on the verge of a Test debut for two years, but his international career has been delayed on several occasions for varying reasons.
The latest hurdle came in December, when Pucovski was struck in the head by a bouncer during a tour match against India A at Drummoyne Oval, and was promptly withdrawn from contention for the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
But the Victorian prodigy recovered from concussion symptoms in time for the New Year’s fixture, and certainly proved his worth at Test level.
Will Pucovski celebrates after scoring a half-century.Source:AFP
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Indian paceman Jasprit Bumrah welcomed Pucovski to Test cricket with a well-directed bouncer in the first over of the match.
The 22-year-old attempted an expansive hook shot, only for a series of “oohs” and “aahs” to echo around the ground as the ball flew through to the wicketkeeper.
As revealed by sports statistician “Swamp”, the previous Test debutant to face the first ball of a Test at the SCG was Colin McDonald in 1952.
It was hardy surprising India would test Pucovski with a bouncer barrage, but the young gun handled the challenge with ease – that is, until Rishabh Pant granted him an extra life in the afternoon session.
Pucovski’s technique looked secure and his shot selection was disciplined, while false strokes were few and far between.
Daily Telegraph reporter Matt Jones tweeted: “While the Indians aren‘t express, Pucovski looks like he’s facing throwdowns in the nets.”
Gorgeous! #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/O4y0IMhnF0
This will no doubt be the kiss of death but geez Pucovski looks good
The word that immediately comes to mind when watching Will Pucovski is COMPACT. #AUSvsIND
The lengthy rain delay in Sydney didn’t halt Pucovski’s momentum, with the young gun slapping a delivery back past Mohammad Siraj to get the afternoon session underway.
Pucovski’s most impressive attribute was his patience. Unlike his more experienced opening partner, he waited for the bowlers to stray in line and length before attacking.
“His hands are nice and tight into the front pad, he didn’t go reaching for the ball, he’s playing nice and tight into the body,” former Australian batsman Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket.
Former Test spinner Kerry O’Keeffe added: “You know they’re going to try and force him back, but when they overpitch, his weight transfer is spot on.”
Victorian coach Chris Rogers is responsible for promoting Pucovski to open the batting in the Sheffield Shield, a decision which proved a masterstroke.
“He’s got a lot of time, he’s controlled with his tempo and he can bat for long periods of time and very rarely flustered, so he looked like a natural fit,” Rogers explained on SEN Test Cricket.
“Then (the decision) was about having a conversation with him about whether he’d like to open and he jumped at it, which was interesting. What stood out was how he jumped at it and saw the opportunity to open.
“That was the call and I was probably pretty nervous in that first game, then 0/480 later and I was OK.”
Australia’s Will Pucovski pulls to bring up his fifty.Source:News Corp Australia
Former Australian all-rounder Andrew McDonald presented Pucovski with Baggy Green No. 460 before play on day one. Due to travel restrictions, Pucovski’s family unfortunately weren’t in attendance.
“Like most journeys in cricket, there’s always ups and downs, and you’ve been through a few,” McDonald said.
“But you’ve met every challenge head on, and the resilience you’ve shown to get through this latest part of your journey, I think has been significant.
“There’s going to be some more challenges ahead – the game doesn’t get any easier once you’re presented this (Baggy Green).
“But I really believe that what you’ve done in Shield cricket holds you in great stead to join this illustrious family, the Australian cricket family.”
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