Australian selectors could be forced to pick Will Pucovski in the second Test in Canberra in order to make him eligible for the upcoming County season and the ideal preparation for the Ashes.
As it stands Pucovski will be ineligible to play County cricket because he is yet to play a Test match for his country, as revealed by The Daily Telegraph.
There are up to six English counties with a vacancy for a batsman, but to be eligible you need to have played for your country, which at this stage rules Pucovski out.
England great Michael Vaughan was one of a number of cricket greats left flabbergasted that Pucovski wasn’t picked for the first Test, after being included in the initial squad.
The 20 year-old Victorian eventually lost out to Kurtis Patterson, after his twin tons against Sri Lanka in a tour game last week.
“I look at the longer term that if you give a player like Pucovski a Test match, there is a chance they will go and play county cricket,” Vaughan said on Fox Cricket.
“He could get seven four-day county games leading into an Ashes in English conditions.
“I’m absolutely amazed the Aussies haven’t gone for the young kid. I really feel Australia have missed a massive opportunity giving him two Test matches against Sri Lanka where you would feel it’s the best time to start your Test match career.”
Former Test opener and County cricket regular Chris Rogers stressed how important playing in England can be for a player’s development in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
“It would have been ideal I think for him to play a couple of Tests here before leading into such a big series,” Rogers said.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that perhaps our batting stocks have dropped away a little bit now that players go and play less county cricket.
‘‘It’s one of the best learning environments to be in just because the ball can swing and seam so much and then also turn quite a lot because of the rough that is created on those pitches at the back end.’’
“In terms of learning the game from a batting point of view, it doesn’t get much better than that. Playing county cricket would be gold.”
Enacting the loophole now appears as the only option for Australian selectors, if Pucovski is in their plans for the Ashes.
That heaps the pressure on Australia’s top six in the final two innings they have to impress, before the XI for Canberra is picked.
Already Joe Burns has failed in his first opportunity, making 15 from 30 balls and Usman Khawaja’s lean run continued, when he was dismissed for 11 although his position is considered safe for now.
Marcus Harris continued his strong form with 40* against Sri Lanka on day one, which leaves Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Kurtis Patterson fighting for their spot for the second Test.
Head would appear the least likely to make way, given he was handed vice-captain duties for the Sri Lanka series.
If Pucovski comes into the side for the second Test it will be one Test too late, according to Vaughan and a selection of former cricket greats, including Shane Warne and Brett Lee.
“So the talked of best young batsman the Aussies have produced for many years Will Pucovski isn’t in the Team to play against Sri Lanka. What an opportunity missed,” Vaughan tweeted.
Australia has missed a trick by not picking Will Pucovski to make his debut at the Gabba on Thursday,” Warne wrote in his column for the Herald Sun.
“I am very disappointed. Pucovski is a quality young player and this was a chance for Australia to build its Test team of the future around him and newcomer Kurtis Patterson.
Australian pace legend Brett Lee also vented his frustration that Pucovski hadn’t been given the opportunity to make his debut.
“Have to say though I’m disappointed Will Pucovski has been overlooked,” Lee tweeted.
“In my opinion it was the ideal time to blood him. He will get his chance.”
That chance now looks certain to be in the second Test, if Pucovski is in the selectors Ashes plans at all.
Published by Staff Writers, 21January 2019 on foxsports.com.au