Will Pucovski, who made waves in the Australian domestic summer with a brilliant 243 against Western Australia which earned him selection for the two Tests against Sri Lanka, has left the Australian cricket team squad and has returned home to Melbourne in order to cope with mental health issues. Pucovski was not included in the Pink Ball Test in Brisbane while he was also not selected in the second Test at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. In both the Tests, Kurtis Patterson, who smashed two centuries in the warm-up game in Hobart impressed and scored his maiden ton at the Manuka Oval.
Speaking about the decision of the 20-year-old to return back to Melbourne, Cricket Australia doctor Richard Saw said the batsman had reported some challenges in coping with his condition in the last couple of weeks. “The decision has been made that the best thing for Will's welfare is for him to return home to Melbourne. Will has been proactive in this process and while he has made significant progress, he feels this is the best course of action to get ready to play cricket for Victoria. Will's decision to speak up and continue to ask for assistance in managing his ongoing mental health is extremely positive. We're handling the situation with care. Will has been really mature about it," Saw said in a statement.
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said the decision to bring Puckovski into the squad was approved despite suffering similar problems in the past. "It is really important to note the support Will has had around him through the team doctor, psychologist in the team, and also the national network of support we've got with player development managers in every state. It wasn't Will's wellbeing or his challenges with that that saw him not play in the Gabba Test, it was because we had a bloke called Kurtis Patterson who played supremely well and scored twin unbeaten hundreds. I'm comfortable with how that played out but at the same time I acknowledge not everyone will agree with me,” Roberts told ABC News.
Pucovski’s battle with mental health issues is well documented. He had suffered seven concussions during his playing career. He missed six weeks of action in the ongoing Sheffield Shield season in order to work on a mental illness that he was suffering from some time. Yet, he scored plenty of runs in the 2018/19 in the domestic season with his 243 against Western Australia comes at a time when Australia is looking for batsmen to contribute in a side that is struggling to cope with the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith.
When being picked up the selection committee, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Puckovski’s ability to make centuries was the defining factor. “Pucovski is an exciting young player who is making his mark in the Sheffield Shield. He is another player with a track record of making centuries. We look forward to him joining the squad and congratulate him on his first national call-up,” Hohns had told Cricket Australia’s official website.