Sheffield Shield: Will Pucovski marks successful return to first-class cricket with a half-century against South Australia
In his first-class return, 12 months after his Test debut, Will Pucovski served up a reminder of his talent.
Will Pucovski survived being struck in the arm early and then peppered with short stuff on his return to first class cricket to score a comeback half-century in a display of his Test class.
But a maiden century from South Australian Daniel Drew and five final session wickets for the home team put them in the box seat to record a first Sheffield Shield win since February 2020.
The Vics were 5-151 at stumps, well behind SA’s opening total of 366.
But it was still an above-expectation return for 24-year-old Pucovski, who had shoulder surgery after his Test debut last January and then suffered a concussion in October. The concussion derailed his summer, during which he was forced to watch Australia’s Ashes win from the sidelines.
He was given the option to bat anywhere for Victoria as he took to the crease against South Australia on Thursday but chose to open and feasted in favourable batting conditions at the Adelaide Oval.
After putting on a 100-run stand with Test opener Marcus Harris, Pucovski was dismissed for 54, adjudged caught behind although he seemed unconvinced he hit it as the Redback bowlers tried a short assault on the flat pitch.
It was however, a positive return after 12 months of setbacks and the comfort of batting with Harris can’t be understated for Pucovski. The four innings they have opened together have yielded 866 runs for Victoria, including the Shield record score of 486, also put on in Adelaide, in 2020.
Victorian coach Chris Rogers was adamant Pucovski would have no trouble picking up where he left off despite such a long time away form the elite level.
“He’s such a gifted player, it’s not like he needs a huge amount of time in the middle to prepare, he tends to find some rhythm pretty quickly,” he said.
Harris missed out on what loomed as a big score when he was caught on the boundary, playing a hefty pull shot, when he was on 58.
But Harris looked untroubled ahead of a Test tour of Pakistan and Rogers said the left-hander had learnt a lot from his Ashes experience, which included being dropped for the final Test against England.
“He’s batting as well as ever,” said Rogers.
“I reckon he learned a bit more again in this last series, just how much attention to detail you have to have about getting your game in order, which it absolutely looks like it is at the moment.
“I am watching him now and everything he’s doing is top draw.”
The Victorian partnership came after Redbacks batsman Drew completed his maiden first-class century, the second for his team in the match, to help the home team in to a powerful position.
Resuming on 96 overnight, Drew was tied down early before eventually reaching three figures.
He was eventually out for 130 as a late-order push helped the redbacks reach 366.
New Test star Scott Boland failed to add to his day one haul of four wickets with youngster Mitch Perry taking three of the five wickets to fall on day two to end with 4-58.