Will Pucovski locks in return to domestic cricket after latest lay-off

After announcing an indefinite break last October, Will Pucovski is ready pick up his bat once again.

Will Pucovski.
Will Pucovski is set to return to Victoria's second XI next week, returning from an indefinite break for mental health reasons. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Five months after announcing he was taking a break from cricket, Will Pucovski is set to make a return to the professional game. Having dealt with a string of concussions throughout his young career as he ascended to a Test debut, the 25-year-old announced late last year that he was taking time away from the sport to focus on his mental health.

It was unclear how long Pucovski would sit out from the game, however cricket fans were thrilled when it was announced he would return for Victoria's second XI against Tasmania in Hobart on Monday. He's been playing premier grade cricket in Melbourne this year, now stepping up once again to represent his state.

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The Victorian batter had only just returned to the game at the start of the 2022/2023 summer after suffering the 11th concussion of his short career. The right-hander made scores of 0, 9 and 37 in two Sheffield Shield games for Victoria, before withdrawing from one-day fixtures and later announcing he was taking a break.

The news that Pucovski is returning to cricket was welcome news for Cricket Victoria's head of male cricket, David Hussey. "We're pleased to see Will's progress and his desire to return to second XI cricket," he said.

"From the outset we haven't set definitive timelines on his return, but having played for Melbourne and the work he's done off the field over the last few months, he feels ready for this and we wish him all the best."

Despite stepping away from playing in recent months, Pucovski has maintained his presence in the cricket world. He worked as a commentator for Channel 7 throughout the BBL season and Test summer, impressing many with his insight.

During that turn on the microphone, Pucovski explained how he was looking to the likes of Test skipper Pat Cummins for inspiration as he builds to a Test return. The early years of Cummins' career were derailed by recurring back problems, and Pucovski said his subsequent emergence as one of the world's premier fast bowlers showed it was mind over matter to some extent.

"He suffered with back injuries and I'm trying to look at it as if I'm getting a head injury in a way that keeps repeating itself," Pucovski said during the Test series against South Africa. "If you've got a back injury or hamstring injury that keeps recurring, you're going to look for different avenues or ways to fix that problem and I'm doing that at the moment.

"I'm as keen as anyone to make sure I can get back out there in any form of cricket as soon as possible."

Will Pucovski remains determined to make Test return

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.

Will Pucovski.
Will Pucovski is determined to work his way back into the Australia Test team. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

"You are going to fail a lot in cricket, that happens," Pucovski said in an interview about his work with Murray in 2019. "But if I am consistent in how I go about it I am giving myself the best chance to succeed.

"It's probably just freed me up a bit. I'm not going to base if I failed or succeeded on a personal level just on my result, but how I went about it."

with AAP

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