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Will Pucovski ruled out of Sheffield Shield game amid fresh concerns for cricket star

The 25-year-old has an extensive history of concussions and suffered another head knock late last month.

Will Pucovski, pictured here in the Sheffield Shield.
Will Pucovski won't be playing in Victoria's next Sheffield Shield game. Image: Getty

Will Pucovski will not play in Victoria's Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia starting on Saturday after the former Test opener suffered some delayed concussion symptoms from a head knock over a week ago. Pucovski, who has suffered multiple concussions throughout his short career, was batting for the Victoria second XI on January 22 when he was struck on the helmet.

He was taken from the field as a precautionary measure, but was cleared of concussion at the time and allowed to resume batting. But Victoria coach Chris Rogers revealed on Thursday that Pucovski complained of feeling dizzy at training this week and won't play against South Australia as a result.

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“He’s unavailable, he experienced some delayed symptoms after getting hit in the helmet in the second XI game in Adelaide last week,” Rogers said. “There were only minor symptoms, but I think everyone here at Cricket Victoria is making sure that we’re doing the right thing and being conservative with our approach.

“Usually, it’s probably a seven-day approach for recovery for most people, but for Will, we’ve pushed it out to 12. This game is just a little bit tight, but there are still some good signs … the kind of long-term thinking is that (he’ll be OK) but he obviously still has a few symptoms. We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing by him.”

Rogers also told SEN radio: “I was there (when Pucovski was hit). It’s always a concern when he gets hit in a helmet. Nic Maddinson was batting with him and Nick said to me later that Will was desperate to stay out there. He was keen to keep going and we haven’t really seen that before, so that was the real positive.

“After that, he came off, he just said he felt OK, he went out and had a hit in the nets and said he was ready to go. Everything seems pretty good … but when he got back home, there were a few fitness sessions where there was just a little bit of dizziness. The medical team have decided to take a conservative approach with it and we support that.”

The 25-year-old Pucovski, who played his lone Test match in January of 2021 against India, has returned to professional cricket this summer and taking leave for mental health reasons in 2022. He has suffered 11 reported concussions throughout his sporting career, which have severely limited his ability to fulfil his potential.

The opening batter has always been touted as a Test star in the making, but hasn't been able to stay on the field. He suffered a shoulder injury during his Test debut while diving for a ball in the field. As well as the concussions, he has taken a number of breaks for mental health reasons.

Will Pucovski.
Will Pucovski looks on during a Sheffield Shield game in 2022. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

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Earlier this week it was announced that Pucovski had signed to play for Leicestershire in England's county cricket. He will link up with the Foxes in the top tier of county cricket in April, joining Victoria teammate Peter Handscomb.

“Talking to Pete, he couldn’t speak more highly about the environment and (the) club’s group of players and staff,” Pucovski said in a statement. “I can’t wait to get over there and be part of a successful start to the season.”

Rogers said it was a step in the right direction for Pucovski as he aims to get back into calculations for the Test team. He has played three Sheffield Shield games this season, with a top score of 65. He also featured in a tour game for Victoria against Pakistan, but only made four.

“He put together four Shield games in a row in the first half and he hadn’t done that for a long time," Rogers said. “Even that’s positive wanting to go and play cricket in the UK because it’s not just about the concussions, it’s a little bit around the OCD that he experiences around cricket.

“These are all things that they’re just building nicely and if you can string together a number of games, it almost feels like there’s that spot for Australia available at some stage. Maybe even when Usman (Khawaja) retires.”

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