After earning a surprise call up to the Australian Test side to face Sri Lanka, 20-year old Will Pucovski has said that he “feels in a really place” after fighting through his battles with mental health issues. Pucovski has played just eight first-class fixtures and had to spend six months on the sidelines to deal with mental health issues. The Victorian batsman has been on the selectors’ radar since he piled up 650 runs at 162.50 in the Under-19 championships and quickly made his first-class debut in the Sheffield Shield.

However, he was ruled out of Shield action in October last year, just days after scoring 243 against Western Australia due to mental health issues but just three months later he is on the cusp of a Test debut, having returned to first-class cricket last month.

“I’m feeling really good, as good as I have felt in a really long time,” Pucovski told cricket.com.au. “I feel like I’m in a really good space and the people I’m working with think so as well. I am meditating every morning, which I honestly never really believed in until (Emma Murray) got me on to it and things like that have helped me really turn things around. I was able to play that Shield game (last month) and loved every minute of it.”

Pucovski spent time with mindfulness coach Emma Murray, who has worked with Australian Football League clubs, and is confident the investment in his mental health will help him to handle the pressures of Test cricket. Chief Selector Trevor Hohns was also impressed by Pucovski’s rapid rise.

“We obviously check on our players these days, we get reports — whether it’s Will or anybody else — medical reports and all reports are that he is fine and available to play,” Hohns said in Sydney.

“Obviously around the team environment, that becomes a management issue with the coach, team manager and players around him as well. But right now, we don’t have an issue with that at all.”
Pucovski opened up on his mental health issue in a recent Fox Cricket podcast.

“It was brought on by myself, it wasn’t necessarily encouraged by anyone,” he said, about the illness. “It was definitely important for me. I just wanted to get it out there. The main thing for me talking about it, in case there are other people going through it.”

Along with Joe Burns, Matthew Renshaw and Marnus Labuschagne, Pucovski will press his case for Test selection in next week’s tour game against Sri Lanka. The game is an opportunity for Pucovski to prepare for the pink ball that will be used during the first Test in Brisbane.

“My heart probably skipped a few beats,” he said, when asked about the moment he heard about his selection. “If I get a game it’d be amazing and if not, it’d still be awesome to be part of the squad. Either way, I’m a pretty happy 20-year-old kid today.”

First Published: January 9, 2019, 5:19 PM IST