Australian batting prodigy Will Pucovski has gotten his summer off a blistering start, scoring an unbeaten 193 in Victoria’s second XI pre-season fixture against New South Wales in Coffs Harbour.
The 24-year-old combined with young gun Ashley Chandrasinghe for a 270-run opening partnership at Cex International Stadium on Wednesday, surviving 404 deliveries and 682 minutes at the crease before retiring during the tea break.
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After starting day three unbeaten on 95, the one-Test wonder was untroubled by the classy New South Wales attack, headlined by former Australian cricketers Trent Copeland and Ben Dwarshius.
The only lowlight for Pucovski came on 159 when he doubled over in pain after being struck in the box, needing five minutes to recover before play could continue.
Chandrasinghe, who scored five successive hundreds in a Northern Territory competition over the winter, brought up a patient century before veteran seamer Trent Copeland removed him for 110 in the early afternoon.
The Victorians were 1/428 at stumps on day three, leading the New South Wales second XI by 139 runs in the first innings.
Earlier in the match, New South Wales wicketkeeper Matthew Gilkes scored 108 before the hosts were rolled for 289 in the first innings.
Pucovski made his long-awaited Test debut against India in the 2021 New Year’s Test match at the SCG, scoring 61 in the first innings before an untimely shoulder injury paved the way for Victorian teammate Marcus Harris to replace him in the starting XI.
The talented right-hander was then plagued by concussion setbacks throughout the 2021/22 summer, keeping him on the sidelines for most of the season.
The opener batter’s eleventh concussion scare came in bizarre circumstances, somehow managing to kick a volleyball into his own head during a warm-up.
Pucovski has played three first-class fixtures over the past 18 months, scoring a half-century in the Sheffield Shield final against Western Australia in Perth.
Cricket Australia sent the Victorian to the MRF Academy in Chennai last month, joining a group of emerging batters and spinners to experience the subcontinent’s unique conditions.
The 10-day excursion showed that Pucovski, who averages 51.63 with the bat in first-class cricket, remains a vital part of Australia’s future Test plans.
“Pretty happy for him, he’s a good egg,” Victorian teammate and Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell told reporters at the SCG on Wednesday morning.
“I was at the pre-season stuff with him a couple of weeks ago, and he looked in really good spirits. He was pretty happy with how his pre-season’s gone, and he was just excited to get back into it.
“He had a trip over to India during the off-season as well, and he said he absolutely loved it.
“Will’s a cricket nuffie — he loves soaking up new information, trying new things, and for him to go over there is great for his game.
“Hopefully it’s a good sign of things to come for this summer, because an Australian summer with him going well is really exciting for Australian cricket.”
Pucovski is expected to play in Victoria’s Marsh Cup season opener against New South Wales at Junction Oval next week.