Aussie talent Pucovski eyes India Tests after mental health issues

Sydney (AFP) –


Young Australian batting prodigy Will Pucovski says he's in "a really good space" and ready to fight for a Test spot against India after mental health issues twice forced him to step away from the game.

The 22-year-old, regarded as one of the country's best prospects, was parachuted into the national set-up last summer for Tests against Sri Lanka.

But after being overlooked for the first one and again missing out on selection for the second he was released to return home and focus on his mental wellbeing.

It was not the first time Pucovski had struggled, taking a long break after hitting a breakthrough 243 for Victoria against Western Australia in 2018.

"I didn't feel like I was quite ready at the time, but I've done a mountain of work in the last year to try to get myself a little further down the line," he told reporters.

"I just feel like I'm in a really good space now, which is awesome, just in everyday life and with my cricket.

"I don't have much control over whether they pick me or not, but I'm definitely very keen," he added of his aspirations for this summer's four-Test tour by India, which starts in Adelaide on December 17.

His first chance to press a case comes on Friday when Victoria get their Sheffield Shield campaign underway against South Australia.

Mental health has been thrust into the spotlight in recent times, with batting superstar Glenn Maxwell and fellow international Nic Maddinson also taking breaks last year.

And there was another reminder this week with South Australia opener Jake Weatherald, who struck a century in their opening Shield clash, withdrawing from their squad to face Victoria for similar reasons.

"He is just having a bit of time out, so we are respecting his wishes and his privacy and hopefully he is back with us sooner rather than later," South Australia coach Jason Gillespie said.

Cricket Australia recently appointed its first mental health and wellbeing officer and there has been increased emphasis on the issue as players deal with being in bio-secure hubs during the coronavirus pandemic.