Cricket Victoria reveals Will Pucovski 'warning signs' amid sad news

Pictured here, Victoria batter Will Pucovski looks on.
Cricket Victoria this week announced that talented batter Will Pucovski was taking an indefinite break from the sport. Pic: AAP

Cricket Victoria (CV) has admitted to seeing Will Pucovski "warning signs" earlier this month, before announcing that the talented batter was taking another break from the sport.

On Thursday, cricket fans were left gutted after it emerged that Pucovski was taking another indefinite break from the game.

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The 24-year-old - who has been touted as a future opener for Australia's Test team - has been ruled out of Victoria's Sheffield Shield team, ahead of the Test summer.

It marks the third time Pucovski has stepped away from the game in a stop-start career that has been derailed by a number of concussions and mental health concerns.

CV said in its statement on Thursday that it would continue to support Pucovski, while asking the cricketing public to respect his request for privacy.

"Player welfare is always our top priority; we'll continue to work with Will to ensure he gets the support and space he needs and welcome him back when he's ready," high-performance manager Graham Manou said.

Elaborating on the subject on Friday, Manou said Pucovski appeared to be in a good frame of mind before the Sheffield Shield season started in October, with the batter's concerns ultimately coming to a head during last week's drawn match against Western Australia.

“For the first part of our season, which included the pre-season and the second XI game he played (when Pucovski made 193 not out), all signs were good. He really seemed in a fantastic place,” Manou said on Friday.

Will Pucovski looks on during an Australian nets session at the MCG in 2021. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)
Will Pucovski looks on during an Australian nets session at the MCG in 2021. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

However, CV's General Manager of Cricket Performance conceded that something did not seem quite right with Pucovski before the opening Shield match of the season against South Australia.

“We had our team psychologist in Adelaide for the first Shield game and there were a couple of warning signs there, and just during the Shield game against WA a few things sort of came to a head for Will.

“And as he has been throughout, (Will) took another courageous decision to take a little bit more time out of the game.”

The Victorian batter had only just returned to the game at the start of this season after suffering the 11th concussion of his short career.

His return initially came as part of a cricket academy tour of India in August, before he scored a big century for Victoria's Second XI in September.

The right-hander made scores of 0, 9 and 37 in two Sheffield Shield games for Victoria, before not playing in recent 50-over games for his state.

He was due to play for Victoria in Hobart on Saturday before Thursday's announcement.

Will Pucovski's health above all else for Cricket Victoria

Manou revealed that Pucovski would work in close consultation with Cricket Victoria’s medical and development staff, before he is deemed fit enough to return.

Pucovski is also likely to be provided with independent expertise about developing "coping mechanisms" before he makes his comeback to cricket.

“We’re fortunate, across cricket, but in particular at CV, we have a fantastic psychologist who has been working very closely with Will and our male and female paying group,” Manou told RSN.

“He’ll seek a little bit of extra support over the next few weeks to give him some additional and perhaps some specialist work to help him develop some coping mechanisms.

“The most important thing is that through this process we are setting him up for life well beyond cricket … it is just a game, a game he is bloody good at.

“Lynden Dunn, who is our player development manager, is also working closely with Will. We have plenty of people around him.

“Whether he’s back in a fortnight’s time, or we see him at the back end of the summer, that’s irrelevant to us. We want to make sure that, with all players, we are setting them up for life.”

Seen here, Victoria's Will Pucovski bats during a Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia in 2022.
Victoria's Will Pucovski bats during a Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia in October, 2022. Pic: Getty (Darrian Traynor via Getty Images)

Widely regarded as one of Australian cricket's brightest talents, Pucovski has played one Test match against India in January of 2021.

After announcing himself as a star in the making with a double century against Western Australia in 2018, he initially took personal leave in October that year.

He was then expected to be named in the Australian Test squad at the start of the 2019-20 summer, before withdrawing himself from contention.

He has since worked closely with his mind coach Emma Murray and repeatedly stated the fire still burns in him to add to his sole appearance for Australia.

Pucovski's debut for Australia was then expected to come in late 2020 against India, but he suffered an ugly concussion in a warm-up match at Drummoyne Oval.

When his debut finally came later that summer he hurt his shoulder diving in the field and was ruled out of the remainder of the season.

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Readers seeking mental health support can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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