Cricket has always been an integral part of Australia’s culture.
Will Pucovski is a long overdue breath of fresh air, particularly considering the way the Australians have been batting since Steve Smith and David Warner were sent on holidays.
“I just love batting for as long as I can,” said Pucovski – a positive attitude that’s been sadly missing.
At just 20, and with only eight Sheffield Shield games under his belt for the Vics, he’s proving his point.
He faced 414 deliveries for his 188 against Queensland at the MCG last February, with 25 fours.
He was a lot quicker with 311 deliveries for his 243 against the West in Perth in October with 30 fours, but there was drama associated with that impressive dig.
Having been concussed from wearing multiple bouncers on his helmet, he lost his way and didn’t think he could continue after stumps on 64.
For the sake of the team, Pucovski added another 179 the next day, and promptly said he was taking indefinite time out to get rid of the demons in his head.
That took two months, returning to face 118 deliveries in his 67 against the West last month at the MCG, with just three fours.
Yesterday, after the news broke he was the new boy on the block in the 13-man baggy green squad for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka, Pucovski said he never felt better. And he certainly looked on top of it.
And hopefully he’ll retain that refreshing “I just love batting for as long as I can,” attitude, and keep his patient, but powerful, strokeplay on the ground – he isn’t a maximum hitter.
Yesterday, Ricky Ponting said he first saw Pucovski as an 11-year-old in Melbourne, where he was a very good player, with a strong technique.
“Graeme Yallop was looking after him, and obviously he’s done a super job to get Pucovski where he is today,” was Ponting’s summation.
More importantly, Will Pucovski has yet to be described as another Ponting, or another Waugh, or another Walters – just let him be himself.
There’s nothing more damaging than being tagged as the second coming of a legend when you have yet to pull on a baggy green.
The perfect example was Ian Craig. Craig was the youngest to play Sheffield Shield for NSW at 16, the youngest to score a first class double century at 17 and 206 days for NSW against South Africa, and the youngest to debut for Australia at 17 years and 206 with 53, and 47, against South Africa at the MCG in 1953.
Craig’s was said to be another Bradman in the making.
As a quiet, freckled-faced, softly-spoken kid, Craig hated that tag.
“There’ll never be another Sir Donald Bradman,” was how he dealt with it, but it was a heavy, and unnecessary, burden for him to carry.
The calls were louder when Craig became the youngest to captain NSW at 19 years and 106 days, and he went on to become Australia’s youngest skipper at 22 years and 194.
But when a severe bout of hepatitis ended his cricketing career on 358 runs at 19.88, Ian Craig had never realised his potential. Through his meteoric rise he had been saluted by Bill O’Reilly who likened him early in his career to not only The Don, but Archie Jackson and Stan McCabe as well.
Noted South African scribe Louis Duffus said Craig was “The most impressive young stroke-maker he had ever seen in Australia, wish we had him”.
The point is this: leave Will Pucovski alone to strut his own stuff in his own time, and own way.
And selectors – leave him alone as well. Give him a decent run in the side.