Australian skipper Tim Paine has said he was “devastated” to hear about Will Pucovski’s latest concussion, and nominated fellow Victorian Marcus Harris as the new frontrunner to open the batting in the Ashes.
- Australian captain Tim Paine says he believes Will Pucovski would have opened for the Ashes if not for his latest concussion
- In a radio interview Paine nominated Marcus Harris as the frontrunner to replace his Victorian teammate
- Paine said he was a few weeks away from any wicketkeeping activity as he recovers from neck surgery
Speaking to SEN Radio in Hobart, Paine said Pucovski was “still hoping to be ready at some stage during this summer”.
Cricket Victoria has confirmed that Pucovski was struck in the helmet by a ball in a net session for Victoria last week, and that the young star was managing his recovery in consultation with CV’s medical staff.
Paine described Pucovski’s latest injury as “not ideal”.
“[It was] shattering when I found out. I’ve spoken to him a bit the last few days. He is improving slowly,” Paine said.
“I don’t think it’s as bad as some of the others he’s had before but with his history we have to be very careful with anything around the brain. I was devastated to hear it’s happened again.”
“He’s still hoping to be ready at some stage during this summer. He’s got plenty of support around him, and we know how good he is so there’s no need to rush him at the moment.
“He’s 22-23 years of age, he’s got a lot of time in the game if we can get it right.”
He dismissed suggestions that Pucovski’s batting technique was at fault for his repeated concussions.
“I just think he’s had a really bad concussion as a kid … I think he’s now more susceptible than other people. He doesn’t need to be hit as hard on his head [to have an effect].”
The skipper admitted Pucovski’s absence for the first part of the Ashes at least was “a blow” to the team, but said it could open up an opportunity for another Victorian batsman.
“In my opinion he would have partnered David Warner in that first Test match [against England],” he said.
“And we know his first-class record for Victoria has been excellent for some time now, so he’s probably the frontrunner (to open).
“For him now to get potentially an extended run in Test cricket is exciting to see what Marcus Harris can do.”
Skipper back in training after surgery
Paine himself is recovering from surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck.
He told SEN that he was back in light training this week, doing pilates and “some very gentle jogging”.
“Basically, I’m trying to get my body ready without putting any sort of stress through the spine at the moment,” he said.
“I’m moving pretty normally … [the problem is] trying to stay away from looking up, which is a bit of an issue when I’m a wicketkeeper, so I can’t do any of that for another few weeks.”
Paine unsure if Stokes will join England’s Ashes squad
Paine was asked about another injured player on the comeback trail, after England star all-rounder Ben Stokes released a post on social media showing his first tentative attempts to swing a bat in six months due to a finger injury.
Stokes was not named in England’s initial Ashes squad, announced this week.
“Ben Stokes is an interesting one, will he join [the England squad] at some stage? I’m not so sure,” Paine said.
“I’m not sure that cricket has been at the top of his priorities list at the moment, but it’s great to see [him in the nets] for the game, that someone like him is coming good and nearly fit.
“When I look at him as the Australian captain, I’m not too upset seeing him not named in that squad.”
Paine said he felt it might be difficult for players to come mid-series, given issues with Australia’s borders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.