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Head in doubt but Khawaja cleared for Windies Test as Pucovski gets good news after being struck by bouncer

22nd January, 2024
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22nd January, 2024
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Usman Khawaja has passed a final concussion check and Australia are confident both he and Travis Head should be right to play at the Gabba despite the latter battling COVID-19.

Three days after being struck in the jaw during the first Test in Adelaide, Khawaja was given the all-clear by Australia’s medical staff on Monday to play the second Test against the West Indies.

Tested daily since being hit by a nasty Shamar Joseph delivery, Khawaja has shown no signs of delayed concussion symptoms and will be fine to play at the Gabba.

It means he will be able to train during Australia’s main session on Tuesday, before the start of the final Test of the summer on Thursday.

The attention has now moved to what role Head will play in the lead-up to the match.

The South Australian has tested positive since Australia’s win in Adelaide, where he was named player of the match for his game-changing century.

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It is expected the 30-year-old will make his way to Brisbane on Tuesday, and if still positive on Thursday he will play under COVID-19 protocols.

Those protocols would likely be the same enforced on Matt Renshaw during last year’s Sydney Test, where the Queenslander tested positive after the toss.

Protocols would include Head sitting away from the rest of the team while waiting to bat, having his own dressing room, and not touching teammates in on-field celebrations.

Officials hope it will not come to that, given the time frame between last week’s Adelaide Test and the first ball in Brisbane on Thursday.

It is the second time Head has battled the virus during an Australian Test summer.

The left-hander became the first Australian to miss a match after testing positive to the virus during the 2021-22 Ashes.

His absence proved crucial in the development of the Australian team, with Khawaja seizing his chance while filling in for Head with twin tons at the SCG. 

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There is no longer a requirement for players to sit out matches with the virus, but a substitute is available if they fall too ill during a Test.

Meanwhile, former Test opener Will Pucovski has been cleared of a concussion after being struck in the head and retiring hurt in a second XI game for Victoria.

He was struck on the helmet attempting a hook shot from South Australian paceman David Grant in the latest scare surrounding the 25-year-old.

Pucovski, who had made 42, has passed a concussion test and can continue batting in the fixture at Adelaide’s Karen Rolton Oval on Monday.

“He will be monitored through the day and rest of the game,” Cricket Victoria said in a statement.

Pucovski, who played one Test in January 2021, has returned to cricket this summer after suffering 11 concussions and taking leave for mental health reasons in 2022.

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Before his return, the right hander, widely regarded as among Australia’s best young batters, had a year out of cricket.

Pucovski has played three Sheffield Shield games this season, with a top score of 65.

He also featured in a tour game for Victoria against Pakistan.

© AAP

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