Good Will Punting: Selectors won’t risk prodigy
They say where there is a Will there is a way and Australia will continue to try and find it.
The untimely concussion of batsman Will Pucovski in the Australia A match against the English Lions on Sunday has again sentenced the gifted youngster on the rest and recovery path he knows so well.
Pucovski will return to Melbourne and miss the last two matches against the Lions but is likely to return to the Australia A side for a four-day game against the Lions in Melbourne from February 22.
It is Pucovski's eighth concussion since he sustained a severe head knock in an AFL match at school.
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Within hours of him stumbling at the crease and hitting his head, Australia was again revising its short-term plans for him.
National cricket's patience with the 22-year-old Melburnian has no limit because it is felt he is the standout talent of a generation of young batsmen that has no other exceptional players.
But that does not mean the chiefs don't worry about how to manage him - which is understandable because they have never had a case quite like his.
While there are strict protocols in place for concussion - and a substitute available under new laws - there is no foolproof system that seems to guard a frequent sufferer against the possibility of another bout.
Two summers ago Pucovski was expected to play when he was chosen in the Test squad to face Sri Lanka at the Gabba.
But there were late concerns about whether he was completely mentally ready for the occasion.
Team chiefs, more concerned for Pucovski's short-term plight than their long-term planning, were concerned what might happen if he was struck in the head.
A call was made to omit him from the starting side.
Pucovski has had other mental issues that have required him to take breaks from the game, including three months ago. He withdrew from Test selection contention when he was on the verge of being chosen to play Pakistan at the Gabba.
It is difficult for selectors to gauge when Pucovski is mentally ready for Test selection if his issues are at their most acute when he is close to selection.
One thing not in question is the youngster's ability. There has been a feeling during the past two seasons that he should be rushed into Test cricket, but suddenly there seems no rush at all. The main priority is Pucovski's health, both physical and mental.
And if his talent takes a summer or two to solidify, there will be no issues with selectors, who have always been privately confident that Will will find a way.