MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) – Consecutive double centuries have earned Will Pucovski (pic below) a spot in an expanded Australian squad that also includes struggling incumbent opener Joe Burns for the four-test series against India.
The 22-year-old Pucovski scored an unbeaten 255 for Victoria against South Australia and 202 against Western Australia in Adelaide in his first two starts of the domestic first-class Sheffield Shield season.
The 17-man squad also includes uncapped 21-year-old batting allrounder Cameron Green, bowling allrounder Sean Abbott, Michael Nesser and legspinner Mitch Swepson, who has taken 23 wickets including three five-wicket hauls in three Shield games for Queensland this season.
The main question over the composition of the test XI for the first test against India in Adelaide starting December 17 is who will open with David Warner, given Burns has scored only 57 runs from five innings in the Shield.
National selector Trevor Hohns said Warner’s input would be sought, but also the form Burns and Pucovski produce in a warm-up game against India in Sydney before the test series.
Hohns said Pucovski’s “undeniable form demanded selection” in the wider squad, but the previous contributions from Burns couldn’t be overlooked.
Burns, who has four centuries and averages 38 from 21 tests, “and the partnership he formed with David Warner has been instrumental in helping Australia get to the No 1 position”, Hohns said.
“Of course it would be nice to have everybody in form right now, but we still have those Australia A games to have a look at.”
Pucovski has had problems with concussion and last year asked not to be considered for test selection, citing mental health issues.
But Hohns said the young Victoria state batter was “good to go” now.
“Will’s record-breaking start to the summer has been exceptional. His ability to show such patience is something which stands him in good stead for test cricket and he is in rare company with two double centuries to start the summer,” Hohns said.
“Cameron has already won selection in the (limited-overs) squad and continues that in joining the test squad. He is a wonderful young talent who has great potential to become an all-rounder of substance over time. His batting alone has demanded his place in the squad.”
Hohns said Swepson offered a quality spin option to Nathan Lyon, and Abbott is in a strong fast bowling group led by veteran Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and James Pattinson.