Will Pucovski‘s “burning competitiveness” has helped him forge back-to-back double-centuries in the Sheffield Shield over the last two weeks, as the calls grow louder for him to be elevated to the Australia Test squad to face India. Pucovski, though, is shutting out talk of international honours just yet.
Just nine days ago, he had finished unbeaten on 255 for Victoria against South Australia as part of a tournament-record opening stand of 486 with Marcus Harris. And today, on the second morning against Western Australia, Pucovski became the first Shield batsman since Dene Hills in 1997-98 to make consecutive double-hundreds, thus making it three in a career that is just 22 games old.
He admitted there were stages on Monday where he started to feel the effects of hours in the middle but was soon able to refocus, and it wasn’t until facing his 733rd delivery of the season that he was finally dismissed.
“You don’t get the chance to make 200 very often. So when you’re in that kind of position, there’s that inner burning competitiveness where you just go, ‘Gee, it would be pretty cool to get two doubles on the trot’,” he said.
“You do get that build-up of fatigue over a week or two. There was probably a stage yesterday where I felt myself losing it a bit, but managed to switch back into gear which felt really good. [And so did] just knowing that I can switch back on and get back into that zone.
“It’s [about] getting into my batting bubble and routines and for the first time in a couple of weeks, I felt myself just leaving that a little bit. But it was only for a very short period. It’s one of those things where I’ve developed the process now that I know how to get myself back into that space. I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been backing my instinct and just playing off intuition. The more I can do that, more regularly the results will hopefully come.”
Pucovski was only told shortly before Victoria’s first game this season that he would be opening the batting. It wasn’t a position he sought out, but he does not see a vast amount of difference from coming in at first wicket down.
“I wouldn’t say I actively wanted to do it, but was happy to do it when the idea was posed to me,” he said. “I wasn’t that fazed to be honest. It’s probably a good thing – you get out there straightaway, so not much time to sit there and watch the game. Just get stuck into it.”
Australia’s Test squad will be named after this round of Shield matches – the last to be played in the Adelaide hub – is completed. With Queensland’s Joe Burns also struggling, there is increasing momentum behind Pucovski partnering David Warner at the top. Even ex-players have started lining up to call for his selection, but he is ignoring all the plaudits being sent his way.
“To be honest, I’ve deleted every cricket app and most social media off my phone… I haven’t really read anything about it, it’s something that’s completely out of my control so all I can do is present myself every day and hopefully do well.”
Even when approaching his latest landmark on Monday morning, his main concern was not getting too carried away, although he did allow himself the acknowledgement of a job well done.
“I had a horrendous photo for my hundred yesterday, so I needed to make sure I wasn’t going too nuts to make sure the 200 photo was better,” he said. “It’s probably just that satisfaction that you’ve done a lot of hard work in the off-season on a variety of different things. Doing a two-week quarantine now almost seems worth it, especially if we can get a win.”