Will Pucovski believes he has done the “head rehab” to be ready for Test cricket, but concedes his challenges are ongoing.
As the selection debate once again starts to heat up around the batting prodigy on the eve of the Indian summer, Pucovski has opened up about the mental battles that stopped him twice previously from making his debut, and declared that if a third opportunity comes; “I’m going to come back and really dominate this thing.”
He and all-rounder Cameron Green are starting to put enormous pressure on Australia‘s settled incumbents ahead of next month’s first Test, and Pucovski’s case has only grown stronger with the added dimension of now being an opening batsman.
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Will Pucovski has once again played himself into the Test frame.Source:Getty Images
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In a deeply honest interview with The Risk Equation Podcast, which Pucovski gave a week before last weekend’s dam busting 255 not out for Victoria, he says that while he now feels genuinely ready for the next level, he’s aware that he remains on a “journey” with his mental wellbeing that will require constant work.
“I see how far I’ve come and how much closer I am to being ready for that next level and I’m at a stage now where I feel I actually am, and truly believe I’d have the mental processes and capabilities to get there,” Pucovski told podcast host, Dr Chris Maguire.
“… It has been a journey and it still is well and truly a journey. I’m still working on that sort of stuff every day and I’m doing different things to improve my life.
“I look back on it and I go, ‘I’ve made so many strides in those two years, but I’ve still got so far to go.
“I want to keep improving and I want to play for Australia and I want to do it for a long time, but I need to do probably more work than your Average Joe to make sure I’m mentally in a head space that can deal with all that stuff.
Pucovski ran the drinks against Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval in 2019.Source:Getty Images
“If someone’s got a dodgy hamstring they’ve got to do extra hamstring rehab exercises. My brain has probably been through a bit more than your average 22-year-old’s, so I’ve got to do a bit more rehab on that to make sure I give myself the best chance to succeed at that level one day.
“… It’s been quite an interesting journey so far but I feel like it’s only the start, which is good.”
Pucovski tells The Risk Equation he does not think he has a mental health issue as such, and when he explains “my head has been through a bit more than other people,” he draws a link to the repeated problems he’s also experienced with concussion, dating back to an incident playing football as a 16-year-old where he missed six months of school.
The first watershed moment for Pucovski was when he took a break from the game after scoring a double century for Victoria in October 2018 at the WACA, describing the innings as an “out of body experience” where he felt completely detached from any emotion about what he’d done.
Later that summer, he was on the verge of a Test debut against Sri Lanka, but wasn’t selected.
Pucovski said pulling out of an Australia A selection trial last summer when he was again poised for a baggy green had been a significant turning point, because he realised he’d got “lazy” with the mental routines and “head rehab” he had put in place for himself since October 2018.
Pucovski is ready to take his next shot with two hands.Source:AFP
“I’m glad it happened because it was that wake-up call. And once I’d pulled out and officially pulled the pin, I remember writing down everything that came to my mind about what had got me to where I was at that stage of my life. I just went, ‘I’m coming after this,’” he said.
“From there, (I thought), ‘now this is it, this is the line in the sand where this is going to be my story.
“Where it’s happened to me twice to a degree, and third time I’m going to come back and really dominate this thing.
“… I’m going to make sure I’m in the right space. That’s not to say I’m in the perfect space now, but again I’m a lot further down the line than I was last year and I know probably now through experience that it’s going to be an up and down sort of journey.
“On some cricket days I’m going to wake up and think, ‘why am I doing this?’ But I do know why.
“At the end of the day I know how rewarding it is for me personally.”
Originally published asWhy Pucovski finally feels ready to tackle big time
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