No cricketer in recent memory has come so close, yet had to bow out at the most opportune of time. Pucovski was supposed to make his debut in 2018, 2019, and 2020 yet life’s cruel mega techniques got the better of him till SCG happened.
It is 2021 and we all expected Pucovski to go well. The feel-good factor of his brave fight against mental illness and the delayed debut to go with a truckload of runs for Victoria a couple of months ago pushed his case so strongly that there was genuine excitement to watch him bat on the international stage. Joe Burns’ woeful form didn’t help the cause either.
All it took was a well-directed short ball, his nemesis for the longest time, to show that he belonged. Pucovski took it on and the bouncer top-edged for a four. Well arrived, youngster!
He went to pile a solid half-century, shaking the nervous energy in the process, and made himself look better than everyone Australia have tried so far in this summer. But was that any definition? Could you really quantify the magnificent rustic charm that Will possesses – a baby boy look with a bagful of dreams?
Yet it took all of five minutes – or was it less? – for Twitter to dissect his techniques and experts to point out why he has such a problem against the short ball. The question about his shuffle, the stance all popped up like they did for Marcus Harris a couple of years ago in the same series. But then you don’t make your debut in Sydney every day with the series locked up 1-1. Will can’t survive long and you know the result – nine-time concussion.
One’d have expected the 62 to shut up the noise but as many on social media pointed out there was a downside to this 62.
His half-century added to Australia’s discourse sure, but there is a lot that was left unsaid from the innings. It spoke about his ability, sure, but didn’t tell much about the future. When he was eventually dismissed by Navdeep Saini – another debutant who had copped a fair share of trouble to make his debut today – after getting a couple of reprieves by Rishabh Pant behind the stumps, the question was even more glaring.
Let Pucovski become a force his own way
Repeating once again, it is not about intent or ability, it is rather the cricket fans’ inability to understand a sporting evolution and the process of a greenhorn becoming a legend in due course of time. Pucovski is not Langer or Hayden. He is out there, wanting to make a name for himself where he will make many more errors and will force us to accept that he is no ready-made force but one who will learn with time. And that is exactly what the flawed innings taught us today.
Euphoric brilliance is one thing and the stated arrogance another – Pucovski operated in the zone in between to give us a promise for the future and that is such a beautiful thing. The way he played out Ravichandran Ashwin, coming to the backfoot on a regular basis and then picking his runs through the gap between cover and mid-off was so soothing to the eye.
His debut innings was a real good representation of his talent and he will hone that to make himself a better cricketer. But as Alison Mitchell observed on ABC Grandstand, it would be really kind of the world if they let him become a giant in his own will and own path. Becoming perfect is the pinnacle, don’t expect him to do that in a single day. We will do him a lot of favour.