CA treads carefully as duo returns
No rush on decision over pair
CRICKET Australia’s hierarchy is tiptoeing cautiously through unchartered territory as it weighs up the promise of boom youngster Will Pucovski and excitement machine Nic Maddinson.
Selectors announced an unchanged squad to face New Zealand in a three-Test series starting next week, except for the fact they omitted Cameron Bancroft as a reflection of just how settled Australia’s top six is after thumping Pakistan.
It meant a call did not need to be made on the prospect of Pucovski or Maddinson coming in as a spare batsman – however, it may only be a matter of time until such a decision needs to be made.
Maddinson was firmly in the selection frame at the start of the summer, before withdrawing on the eve of the Australia A selection trial match against Pakistan due to mental health issues.
Pucovski was all-but penciled in to make the first Test team against Pakistan, until he too asked not to be considered for selection as he took time away to focus on his own mental health.
Both men returned to State cricket last week and picked up from where they left off — each making first-up half centuries for Victoria at the MCG. Cricket Australia has shown leadership in the way it has handled the recent run of mental health concerns raised by Maddinson, Pucovski, Glenn Maxwell and women’s star Sophie Molineux.
However, particularly in the case of Maddinson and Pucovski, the great unknown remains how and when to nominate them again for national selection.
Mental health is not the same as recovering from a hamstring strain, and Cricket Australia has already made it clear that the bravery of those involved to put their hands up would not impede their selection hopes in the future in any way.
National selector Trevor Hohns indicated yesterday the management of their return as selection candidates has been and will continue to be a comprehensive — but complicated — process involving team psychologists and input from Victorian officials.
“That’s a difficult question for me to answer. We did do our checks. I can’t really answer that (whether they were available for selection) right now,” said Hohns.
“That comes from the psychologist attached to Cricket Australia, so we obviously do checks on those sort of guys from time to time.
“Two of them, as we know (Maddinson and Pucovski) have played Sheffield Shield cricket, (but) that does not necessarily mean they’re available for representation of Australia.”