Records crumble as Victorian pair Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris combine for mammoth partnership

Test cricket and Will Pucovski are ready for each other after a definitive ton and record-breaking stand with Victorian opening partner Marcus Harris against South Australia in Adelaide.

Unbeaten Harris (207 off 359 balls) posted a second career double-ton while Pucovski will resume on 199 (308 balls) with Victoria a staggering 0-418 and 218 ahead at stumps on the second day.

Harris and Pucovski smashed Victoria’s all wicket, Sheffield Shield partnership record of 390* between Julian Wiener and Jeff Moss at the Junction Oval against Western Australia in 1981. The pair also beat a 94-year, 375-run record between Test legends Bill Woodfull and Bill Ponsford for Victoria’s highest Shield opening partnership as the Redbacks were rendered spectators at Glenelg Oval.

“That was awesome, so great to watch. They had chemistry from the start,” said Victorian skipper Peter Handscomb.

“Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer used to love each other as openers and I think these two will as well.

“It was a pretty special day. We asked Puc if he was happy to open, he was and we can see why.”

Mike Valetta and Geoff Marsh’s record 431 Shield opening stand against South Australia in Perth during 1989-90 is tantalisingly close for the Victorians. Mark and Steve Waugh hold the record, all wicket Shield stand of 464 set against WA for New South Wales at the WACA in 1990-91.

Pucovski, 22, delivered an innings of absolute dominance to show national selectors he’s good to go in a baggy green. Pucovski may well be closer to a Test debut than Harris is a recall but both ensured their names will be firmly in contention for an expanded Test squad against India. Class batsmen are never rushed and Pucovski appeared to have an eternity to unravel the Redbacks.

Selectors had pencilled Pucovski for a Test debut last year against Sri Lanka but appears to have inner peace and confidence against the short-pitched ball after recovering from concussions and mental health battles.

“They batted really well the Victorians. We need to improve, it is not good enough,” said SA coach Jason Gillespie.

Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris of Victoria.Source:Getty Images

Pucovski was the eighth Australian to post a double century before turning 21 with 243 in 2018 and will bank a second against the Redbacks.

Pucovski was at ease in the middle and if this equilibrium is maintained off field then national selectors will come knocking. Coach Chris Rogers is one the most astute, innovative minds in the world cricket and his intuition to promote Pucovski paid immediate dividends in Victoria’s 2020-21 maiden Shield clash.

Pucovski and Harris underlined the task ahead of new Redbacks coach Gillespie this season, overtaking the host’s first innings total of 200 then Matthew Elliott and Jason Arnberger’s record 353 opening stand against the Redbacks in 1999. Harris struck one more boundary – with 23 – than Pucovski in the ultimate tag team effort.

Harris and Pucovski batted with the focus and prudent shot selection of two men believing in their talent and Test destinies. SA skipper Travis Head rotated Chadd Sayers, Daniel Worrall, Wes Agar and Lloyd Pope to no avail.

Pucovski will apply enormous pressure on either Test opener Joe Burns or middle order spots of Matt Wade and Travis Head after his fifth first-class ton. It will be left to selectors to take an educated gamble in a showpiece series against India’s Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

Pucovski was a man in a hurry in the first session but Harris accelerated after lunch with some immaculate stroke play to pip his partner to a century and double ton.

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