The Australian selectors were under pressure on Tuesday to choose Will Pucovski as the opening batsman for the Test series against India after the young prodigy hit two centuries in a row. The 22-year-old hit an unbeaten 255 for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield last week and shared a record opening of 486 runs with Marcus Harris against South Australia. He followed it up with 202 against Western Australia on Monday, where former Australian captains added weight to the call to open alongside David Warner at the expense of incumbent Joe Burns.
“It’s against a good team, India, but this kid is ready … this is his time,” former skipper Michael Clarke told reporters.
“I have to choose him. The fact that this series is in Australia is a great way to get him into that test team too. He plays in conditions he is used to.”
Fellow former captains Ian Chappell and Kim Hughes expressed similar sentiments, as did Mark Waugh.
“I would certainly choose him for the first test against India,” Waugh told Fox Sports. “He should be chosen as the opening batsman.”
“Joe Burns has a pretty good track record, but his start to the season hasn’t been ideal and he just hasn’t nailed that spot.”
But Waugh’s brother Steve – Australia’s most capped player – disagreed.
“(Coach) Justin Langer is big on loyalty and winning combinations,” he told AFP.
“A lot of people have taken a look at Burns, but the fact is that he has done really well with Warner, they have great chemistry that is so important to a partnership.
“So I’m not so sure it will be broken up.”
Selectors finalize the roster for the first of four Tests against India in Adelaide on December 17, with Australia’s top six being handled largely apart from Warner’s opening partner.
Pucovski has long been regarded as one of Australia’s best prospects, but is struggling with concussions and mental health issues.
He was in the national line-up against Sri Lanka last summer, but after being overlooked for the first and missing the second again, he was released to return home and sort out his problems.
Elsewhere in the Sheffield Shield, former Test opener Matt Renshaw sent his own memory with an unbeaten 168, while fellow Queenslander Mitchell Swepson took 5-55.
It was Swepson’s third consecutive five-wicket draw, cementing his burgeoning reputation as one of Australia’s most promising spinners.
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