‘Once in a generation’ talent betters Sir Donald Bradman after marathon performance

Victorian prodigy Will Pucovski is destined to receive a baggy green this summer, as the young gun’s marathon performance came to a close on Monday.

For a second consecutive innings in the Sheffield Shield, Pucovski passed 200 to put Victoria in a commanding position against West Australia in Adelaide.

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He was eventually dismissed by paceman Matthew Kelly, caught at mid-wicket off a leading edge for 202.

Despite Victoria missing the opening two rounds due to coronavirus restrictions, the 22-year-old is already the competition’s highest run-scorer with 457.

Although it could be argued Pucovski’s record-breaking 255 not out against South Australia last week was aided by batting-friendly conditions, the same can’t be said for his subsequent knock.

West Australian captain Shaun Marsh opted to bowl first at Karen Rolton Oval, believing the green deck would provide his seam attack with plenty to work with.

But Pucovski expertly conquered the new ball on Sunday, taking advantage once the red pill lost its shine. His marathon innings lasted 347 balls, and featured 27 boundaries. He now has three double tons from just 21 first class matches.

Will Pucovski of Victoria.Source:Getty Images

Pucovski becomes the eighth cricketer to score consecutive double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield, the first to achieve the feat since Tasmanian batsman Dene Hills in the 1997/98 summer.

As revealed by Wide World of Sports reporter Brett Graham, Pucovski broke the all-time record for fewest Sheffield Shield innings needed to make four scores of 180 or above.

Pucovski achieved the feat in 27 innings — Sir Donald Bradman needed 35.

Fewest #SheffieldShield innings to make four scores of 180 or above:

27 – WILL PUCOVKSI
30 – Alan Kippax
32 – Bill Ponsford
35 – Don Bradman
53 – Lindsay Hassett
54 – Warren Bardsley
63 – Matthew [email protected]

Pucovski’s first class batting average sits at 56.07. The only other current Australian cricketer with an average higher than 50 is former Test captain Steve Smith.

Speaking on SEN Breakfast, former Victorian batsman Brad Hodge labelled Pucovski a “once in a generation” talent.

“You know what it’s like when you come across a sportsman that’s just got every tool you need to be a superstar, and Will’s it,” Hodge said on Monday.

“He’s a once in a generation (player) where he can play 100 Test matches, and given the circumstances around his health — hopefully that’s fine — now it’s as good a time as ever to get him in the Test side.

“Going back a year and a half ago, he was pretty close to being selected in the Test side, but just had to fight through those personal issues.

“The temperament of the young kid is outstanding so physically, mentally and skilfully he’s in a pretty good place.

“I’ve seen Will play a number of times and he is one of the most skilful, talented cricketers I’ve ever seen.

“We talk about time, and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, he has time on his side when he’s playing deliveries which others struggle with so it’s a special quality.”

Speaking on ABC Radio, two former Australian captains also called for Pucovski to be given a chance in the Test side.

Kim Hughes said: “I’d pick Pucovski to open with (David) Warner.”

Ian Chappell added: “He’s ready … you’ve got to get him in for the first Test.”

Will Pucovski of Victoria.Source:Getty Images

Pucovski was on the verge of a Test debut after he was named in Australia’s squad for the two-match series against Sri Lanka in early 2019, but was released from the squad and took indefinite leave from the game due to mental health concerns.

The young gun then rocketed back into contention last summer when he featured in the Australia A fixture against Pakistan, but was once again not considered for national selection due to mental wellbeing.

But after an extended pre-season due to COVID-19, Pucovski finally feels ready to tackle Test cricket.

“I think the older you get and the more experience you gain, you get used to situations and understand how the world works a bit more,” Pucovski said last week.

“I feel really comfortable within myself now and more so than I did last year and more so than the year before that.

“There’s obviously a lot of different things that have been going on that I’ve wanted to get under control and in that sense, I feel like I’ve done that from a holistic perspective.

“In that sense, I feel like I’m really ready because I put that much work in I guess to make sure that I am in a good space.”

News Corp’s Ben Horne and Robert Craddock reported Pucovski would feature in Australia’s extended Test squad for the upcoming four-match series against India, which commences at Adelaide Oval in December.

With Queensland opening batsman Joe Burns struggling to rediscover his form in the Sheffield Shield, Pucovski seems destined to partner with Australian stalwart David Warner this summer.

MOST SHEFFIELD SHIELD RUNS BETWEEN DISMISSALS

545 — Bob Simpson (1960)

517 — Sir Donald Bradman (1933-34)

510 — Dean Jones (1995)

499 — Sir Donald Bradman (1930)

479 — Sir Donald Bradman (1930)

457 — Will Pucovski (2020)

Where were you when Will Pucovski broke cricket?

C'mon @ShaneWarne … what are you doing in there in lockdown? It's time to call for #Pucovski into the Test side this summer!

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