David Warner will be sounded out about his opening partner for the Test series against India, but national selector Trevor Hohns has no doubt that Will Pucovski would be ready for the role despite just two matches in that position in first-class cricket.
Those two games have, of course, brought the small matter of two double-centuries – 255 not out and 202 – in recent weeks which have propelled Pucovski to the brink of a Test debut.
The big decision for the selectors is whether he now replaces the incumbent Joe Burns, who was part of the side all last summer and has a good partnership record alongside Warner: the pair averages 50.55 from 27 innings opening the batting.
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“Of course we talk to David, he’s a very senior player, he’s very experienced and it’s important he’s comfortable as well, provided we are, of course, with the person he opens with,” Hohns said. “It goes a long way in forming an opening partnership. You have to be comfortable with your partner and we certainly do consult players on such issues.”
While insisting that the decision between Burns and Pucovski still had to be made – with the Australia A matches shaping as the deciders – Hohns was confident that from both a technical point and regarding his mental wellbeing Pucovski was ready for Test cricket.
“Will’s in fantastic form. He’s not just in good form, he’s in great form. I think that’s undeniable,” he said. As far as Will goes, and that goes with all our players, we check their health and wellbeing. Not just Will but all of our players. Will’s good to go.
“He has the game to handle that [opening] as we’ve seen already. Okay it’s only a couple of games but prior to that he’s been batting at No. 3, he certainly has the technique to handle the opening position if required.”
One of the other questions facing the selectors is how to manage the all-format players through the six limited-overs matches which start the tour at the end of November. It is expected that those returning from the IPL – especially Warner, Steven Smith and Pat Cummins – may be rested at some point, but Hohns conceded there was a balancing act to appease broadcasters.
“We’re currently working through that right now and waiting for the IPL players in particular to return home,” he said. “We are working on that at the moment in the background and, of course, we have to take into account the broadcasters and make sure if we are going to give a player a break or players a break, they’re not all missing from the one game.”
While the majority of Australia’s Test squad have been part of the Sheffield Shield hub in Adelaide this week, those returning from the IPL will not have any long-form cricket before the Test series and instead will prepare with nets in Adelaide while the second Australia A game is going on in Sydney.
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