Former Australia captain Mark Taylor has urged the national selectors to pick in-form Will Pucovski to open the batting against India in the upcoming four-Test series.
Taylor also praised the youngster for taking a six-week break from cricket to deal with mental health issues during the 2018-19 home summer.
Pucovski was named in a 17-member extended Australian Test squad for the four-match series against India.
“I would play Will Pucovski and leave Joe Burns out. Burns averages 38 in Test cricket. He’s been a solid player for Australia without being a great one,” said Taylor on Channel 9’s ‘Sports Sunday’.
“Pucovski said he’s ready — he’s made two double hundreds. Pick him while he’s in form. He has the potential to be a player for the next decade.”
Very few young Australian cricketers have generated as much buzz in recent years as the 22-year-old, thanks to his prolific form in Sheffield Shield.
Victoria’s Pucovski has produced successive double hundreds, scoring 202 against Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield clash after an unbeaten 255 against South Australia.
Despite missing the opening two rounds of the competition, he has scored 495 runs so far this season in three innings and is currently the tournament’s highest run-scorer.
On the other hand, incumbent opener Joe Burns averaged 32 for Australia last summer and has had below-par start to the Sheffield Shield season, scoring 57 runs from five innings.
Pucovski was on the brink of making it to the Test squad in late 2018 but stepped away from the game, citing mental health concerns.
“He’s been open and honest about it from the word go that wouldn’t have been easy. In the sides I played in it would have been seen as a sign of weakness now it’s seen as a sign of strength,” Taylor said.
“I like the fact Victorian coach Chris Rodgers has had a word to him about batting at the top of the order. He’s done that, made two double hundreds, and he’s once again publicly come out and said, ‘I now feel good, I’m enjoying my cricket, I’m ready.
“His openness and his transparency with his mental health issues have really helped him, and I think has set a really good example for young sports people.”
Former skippers, including Ian Chappell and Michael Clarke, had recently called for Pucovski’s inclusion in Australia’s team for the upcoming four-Test series against India.
However, head coach Justin Langer has hinted that he is likely to stick with Burns at the top for the opening Test in Adelaide beginning December 17.
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