Will Pucovski leads the Victorian team from the field. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty
Will Pucovski leads the Victorian team from the field. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty

Cricket shock: young star’s mental health battle

VICTORIAN cricket has been shocked by revelations batting sensation Will Pucovski will take an indefinite break from cricket to deal with a mental health issue.

The 20-year-old thrust his name in the national conversation with a stunning 243 last week in Perth, in just his seventh Sheffield Shield innings.

It was an effort that convinced plenty, including legendary Test captain Steve Waugh, the batting prodigy was ready for Test cricket now.

But after he was withdrawn from this week's Sheffield Shield clash against NSW, Cricket Victoria officials confirmed the rising star was dealing with issues off the field.

Officials were restricted in how much they could reveal about Pucovski's condition, but said he would not return to the playing field until he was ready.

"Will's health remains our highest priority and Cricket Victoria's medical staff will continue to provide support to Will during this time," Cricket Victoria's Doctor Trefor James said.

Cricket Victoria general manager Shaun Graf said selectors would continue to do what was best for Pucovski.

"Will is a terrific young player and we need to do what's best for him at this time," he said.

"We'll continue to work with our medical staff to determine the best training and preparation plan to support Will at this time."

Pucovski has long been touted as a future Test player. He broke the scoring record at the national under-19 championships in 2016, and in just his second Shield innings last year pounded 188 against Queensland.

Last week he became the youngest batsman since Ricky Ponting to score a Shield double-century and added his name to a star-studded list of just nine, including Sir Donald Bradman, to reach the mark before he turned 21.

But his early career has also been plagued by concussions, with two last summer impeding his progress.

His talent, however, has not gone unnoticed.

On Friday morning Waugh told the Herald Sun that of all the young talented batsmen in Australia, Pucovski was the one he would elevate to the Test side now.

Will Pucovski is taking an indefinite break from cricket.
Will Pucovski is taking an indefinite break from cricket.

The former Test skipper, who had seen a lot of Pucovski in junior representative sides, said Pucovski was one of a rare breed of batting prodigies who had all the tools to wear a baggy green before he turned 21.

"There' some good kids coming through, but I think Pucovski is ready to be picked now," Waugh told the Herald Sun.

"I've seen him in the under-19s and he had an adult head on young shoulders when he was 17 and 18 and scoring hundreds.

"He's got a really good temperament, he knows how to score runs. When you see him as a 20-year-old, he's well advanced.

"He was the one kid I identified as being ready. He's got the right temperament and that's the key at that age. He won't be overawed if he does get selected. If they are looking to change the team, he's the guy I would bring in."