Why Australian cricket needs Pucovski - and needs him now
IF last scores count for anything then Australia can only have a two-man top six for the first Test at the Gabba next week.
The most recent red-ball score of the contenders, other than you know who, is scary reading.
Marcus Harris made 16, Joe Burns 0, David Warner 15* for NSW before he went on a white-ball tear.
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Even Marnus Labuschange, who will play in Brisbane, made 0 runs at the MCG on Tuesday.
Usman Khawaja made just six in Perth, and Travis Head only 12.
Thankfully Steve Smith is coming off a hundred at the SCG, and Matthew Wade is still batting at the Adelaide Oval.
Then there's Will Pucovski, the wunderkind, the great white hope.
He only made five in the "bat-off" in Perth which turned in to more of a "walk-off" for the Aussie A willow-wielders.
It was a pretty good ball that got him too, from a bowler who took 5-32.
But the selection science goes beyond the immediate numbers. Australian coach Justin Langer, one of only two national selectors, said as much this week.
"We don't just select on numbers, otherwise the scorer could select the team. We select on all these other layers," Langer said.
There's been talk of a detailed "dossier" being compiled on every would-be baggy green wearer too, which takes in everything from their runs to their mental health.
Cricket Australia refers to it as more of a bank of "detailed data".
So the last start for everyone, while a contributing factor, is not the be-all and end-all.
That's why Pucovski being dismissed for just five should not sway Langer and selection chief Trevor Hohns from picking the 21-year-old for the first Test.
This is not a "the other guys are no good" situation, although the numbers make that case.
This is just a "how good is Will?" scenario, with exposed form over the past two Australian summers, including 243 against WA at the WACA to start last Shield season, painting the picture of a rare talent that needs to be injected in to a side where the other contenders simply don't have the same upside as the Victorian does.
Cricket is screaming for the Pucovski story. It needs the Pucovski story.
Simply inserting yet another mid-20s first-class batsmen with an average under 40 would be reverting to the type which has been the root cause of Australia's plummet down the Test rankings.
There are only five Tests at home this summer, then only two more next year in Bangladesh, if they go ahead, before the home summer begins again.
It's the time for rejuvenation, not reinstalling Khawaja or, heaven-forbid, Shaun Marsh.
The absence of Test opportunities after it and the extreme likelihood both, given their age, might not even be on the radar again beyond right now, is reason enough to pick Pucovski.
Again, this is not an anti-the other guys, particularly Travis Head, the other man most likely.
But picking the South Australian just doesn't offer the same bold, exciting opportunity picking Pucovski does.
His elevation to the Test squad last summer for the series against Sri Lanka created a buzz Australian cricket hasn't enjoyed for some time.
Pucovski's name was suddenly on the lips of the nation.
Cricket needs that again.
Be bold selectors, pick Pucovski.