Young gun Will Pucovski rules himself out of Test contention over mental health concerns

Australia World

Updated November 14, 2019 12:15:31

Young Victorian batsman Will Pucovski has become the latest Australian cricketer to reveal he is struggling with mental health issues and has removed himself from Test consideration.

Key points:

  • Will Pucovski ruled himself out of contention for Test selection “due to matters pertaining to mental wellbeing”
  • Pucovski played in Australia A’s three day match against Pakistan in Perth, scoring five runs in his only innings
  • Pucovski is the third Victoria player to take a break from the game in recent weeks, following Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson.

Pucovski, 21, was seen as a solid chance to be named in the Australian Test squad for the upcoming series against Pakistan.

However, Cricket Australia advised on Thursday morning — a few hours before the expected release of the squad — that he had asked not to be considered for selection “due to matters pertaining to mental wellbeing”.

Pucovski spoke to officials on Tuesday, during the Australia A match against Pakistan in Perth, but went on to finish the game, making five in his only visit to the crease.

“We applaud Will for having the courage to discuss his situation with team management in Perth,” Cricket Australia general manager of national teams Ben Oliver said.

“Will’s decision not to nominate for Test selection was the right one in the circumstances and one that everyone in the Australian cricket family supports.

“Mental health is a complex issue that unfortunately impacts many young men and women in our society.”

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Cricket Australia sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris echoed the message of support for Pucovski and his decision.

“There is much society still needs to learn in relation to mental health, but we know enough to say with great certainty that silence is not the answer,” Cricket Australia sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris said.

“Will has demonstrated great strength in being open about his situation.

“While no-one wants to see a fine young man like Will confronting mental wellbeing issues, we are heartened by the fact he is surrounded by excellent people who will support him. We are all right behind him.”

This time last year, Pucovski took a mental health break from the game amid speculation about a possible Test call-up.

With today’s announcement, he becomes the third local cricketer in two weeks to approach officials about mental health issues.

Earlier this week, fellow Victorian Nic Maddinson withdrew from selection the same Australia A match against Pakistan for mental health reasons.

Last month, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell — also from the Bushrangers — withdrew from Australia’s T20 squad against Sri Lanka and Pakistan over similar concerns.

Kohli supports Maxwell mental health call

Overnight, Indian skipper Virat Kohli spoke out in praise of Maxwell’s decision, describing it as “remarkable”.

“It will set the right example for cricketers all over the world that if you’re not in the best frame of mind, you try, you try and try.

“I think, as human beings, you reach a tipping point at some stage you need some time away from the game.

“I think these things should be respected and not taken in a negative way at all, because this is happening at a human level. It’s got nothing to do with what you do on the field or not.

“Just not having the capacity to deal with things, which I think can happen to anyone, so I think it should be taken in a very positive way.”

The Indian captain acknowledged he had had his own mental health struggles during his career.

“I have gone through a phase in my career where I felt like it was the end of the world,” Kohli said.

“In England [in] 2014, I didn’t know what to do, what to say to anyone, how to speak, how to communicate.

“And to be honest, I couldn’t have said [then], ‘I am not feeling great mentally and I need to get away from the game’, because you never know how that’s taken.”

Topics: sport, cricket, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted November 14, 2019 09:13:45

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