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'He's got to show a bit of toughness': Pucovski resumes career as Warne says road back will be tough

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Expert
7th January, 2022
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Will Pucovski is aiming for a quick return to the Australian Test squad but spin king Shane Warne believes he’s got a long, tough road ahead before he can get back to that level.

Pucovski will play his first game on Saturday since last January’s Test in Sydney after suffering yet another concussion during a pre-season net session in October.

The 23-year-old opener, who made 62 on debut against India but missed the final match of the series due to a shoulder injury, will turn out for Melbourne in Victorian Premier Cricket in a bid to return to Sheffield Shield cricket with Victoria next month.

Australia are touring Pakistan in March but Pucovski is now behind the likes of Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Nic Maddinson for selection alongside established specialist batters Steve Smith’ Marnus Labuschagne and David Warner.

“The fire is definitely still burning to make sure I get back there,” Pucovski said on Friday.

“I’d like to say that if I am playing Shield cricket for Victoria, and I’ve put my name up, I’m ready to go.

“The Pakistan tour is in March, so if I’m doing well and put performances on the board then I can’t see why I wouldn’t be in line to be selected there.”

Pucovski has suffered 10 concussions in his young career and has spoken to chief selector George Bailey, who has assured him that the team was keen to see him get back into the international arena.

“He just said ‘mate just make sure you get yourself right, we want you as a sort of long-term player for Australia’,” he said.

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“That was pretty awesome to hear. You do get worried that with the injury pile-up that people are maybe going to give up on you.”

Warne attracted plenty of criticism for his comments on Fox Cricket in which he suggested Pucovski needed to show how much he wanted to get back into the Test team before he could be chosen again.

“At least he’s back playing. Hopefully he can finish the season in grade cricket then hopefully make some runs. Next year maybe start his comeback in first-class cricket and make some runs then start to try to push for Australian selection because he’s well back in the pecking order now,” he said.

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“He has to show he can play for a period of time. He’s over his issues, which is not easy. He wants to play, that’s the key.”

Warne rejected any notion he should be fast-tracked back into the state and National line-ups.

“He has to show a bit of toughness now too. It’s never easy what he’s been going through. He showed a lot out here last year, he showed that he can play at this level.

“He’s got to prove now how much it means to play cricket for Australia, how much cricket means to him.”

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Pucovski expects to be targeted with short-pitched bowing but said that was nothing new.

He has worked with mind coach Emma Murray to help deal with the circumstances of his unusual career trajectory of extreme highs and lows in recent years.

“It’s just bound to happen. So it’s something I’ve got to deal with,” he said when asked about copping bouncers. “But I’ve also got people that are helping me out with my concussions.

“And I feel pretty confident that regardless of what happens, I’ll always be able to bounce back so it’s not really something that occupies my mind too much.”

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