An independent neurologist has given Will Pucovski the green light to play at the SCG, now Australia’s selectors must decide whether the would-be debutant is ready to partner David Warner in the high-stakes Test.
Justin Langer has all but confirmed Warner will return from his groin strain on Thursday after spending almost six weeks on the sidelines.
Warner recently admitted he is unlikely to be 100 per cent fit for the third Test, which comes with the series level at 1-1 after India’s shock win at the MCG.
Langer suggested the veteran opener is “very, very, very likely to play”, adding there was no risk “of him re-injuring himself”.
The more challenging conundrum confronting Australia’s coach is whether Pucovski or Matthew Wade should partner Warner at the top of the order.
The call to potentially promote Pucovski – who was unavailable for the first and second Tests because of the latest in a series of concussions – at the expense of Travis Head is complicated by several factors.
“Will saw an independent neurologist yesterday,” Langer told reporters on Tuesday.
“He’s seen a couple now.
“The real heartening thing for him is that while he’s had a few concussions in the past … it’s not necessarily going to have any long-term impact on him.
“All the concussion protocols … have been passed. He’s been cleared and that would be very heartening for him, his family.
“There’s no reason why Will can’t be selected now. It’s just working out the balance of our team, where we’re at in the series … we weigh up whether this Test match is right, or the next Test match is right.”
Pucovski, who was on the cusp of a Test debut during the past two home summers but ruled himself out of contention and took a mental-health break, only returned to the nets in Melbourne.
Langer noted the 22-year-old prodigy, who posted double-tons in consecutive Sheffield Shield games prior to his untimely bouncer blow in a tour game, was in a “great frame of mind” as he prepared for a short-pitched assault.
“He’s incredibly positive about playing cricket. He’s trained hard this week and, as he and I have discussed, the only way to get back on the horse is to get back on the horse,” the former Test opener said.
“As he will say, in the last three years; every team he’s played against has bowled a lot of short-pitched balls.
“So if he wants to take it on, then that’s the best advice I can hear.”
Warner will replace axed opener Joe Burns in the XI.
Head, who is averaging 20.66 in this series, looms as the batsman likely to make way if Pucovski is presented with a baggy green.
“Heady is a good player. Averaging 40 in Test cricket. He’s a really aggressive player in the middle overs,” Langer said.
“He’s one of the guys currently in the team. Whether that changes for this game, I can’t tell you. We’ve got some decisions to make … probably after this afternoon’s session.”