Greg Chappell has joined older brother Ian in calling for Will Pucovski to be thrust onto the international scene against India, warning that “the safe selection isn’t necessarily the best selection”.
The question of who will open with David Warner in the Test series next month is one of the biggest talking points in the game despite the long-awaited men’s international portion of the season beginning at the SCG on Friday night with the first of six white-ball games between Australia and India.
The Australian players who are not in quarantine at Sydney Olympic Park trained on Monday at the SCG for the first time together since assembling in Sydney and won’t be joined by the likes of Warner, Steve Smith and Adam Zampa, who are in isolation after returning from the Indian Premier League, until they are permitted to switch hotels on Thursday night.
Neither Joe Burns nor Pucovski are in the Australian limited-overs squad but are in the 17-man party for the Test series starting in Adelaide on December 17 and their vastly contrasting numbers in the Sheffield Shield has given the young Victorian a chance to usurp the Queenslander after thriving in his promotion to open for his state.
All signs, however, are pointing to Burns retaining his place, with coach and selector Justin Langer and captain Tim Paine having highlighted the success of his combination with Warner last summer.
Warner, who national selector Trevor Hohns revealed would be consulted before a final call was made, did his best to remain impartial when speaking to reporters on Monday, but said: “For me, you don’t break something that is working”.
Pucovski could still find his way into the XI following next month’s Australia A match against the Indians in Sydney in which he and Burns are both playing. And with only two first-class matches under his belt as an opener, there is the potential his Test debut could come in the middle order not at opener, possibly at the expense of Matthew Wade.
Whatever the case Greg Chappell, who retired from the national selection panel after the Ashes tour last year, believes the 22-year-old’s successive double centuries in his only two matches for the season demand inclusion.
“I think Pucovski has done enough. He’s a player of the future, he’s a potential champion,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Monday. “The sooner he plays and works out what he’s got to do at that level, the sooner he becomes the player we think he can be.
“My belief has always been and will always be [that] you ignore youth at your peril. The safe selection isn’t necessarily the best selection.”
His comments follow those of brother and fellow former Test captain Ian Chappell, who in a series of weekend media appearances said now was the time to blood Pucovski.
“Burns isn’t your future,” Ian Chappell told Nine on Sunday.
The younger Chappell was a Test selector on the first occasion Pucovski was chosen in an Australian Test squad, for the two-match series against Sri Lanka in early 2019. The emerging star ended up withdrawing for mental health reasons and also made himself unavailable just before he was going to be named in the Test squad last summer.
Pucovski’s welfare remains an obvious concern but he has declared himself ready for a Test call-up.
“The biggest challenge for him this year would have been having to go into the bubble in Adelaide,” Greg Chappell said. “He seems to have coped with that well enough and he’s made runs.
“The reason you want him to play now is because David Warner and Steve Smith are there. They’re the blokes you want him to learn from. He’s not going to learn any more from playing with blokes at first-class cricket but he can learn a lot from playing alongside Warner, Smith, [Marnus] Labuschagne and whoever else is in that international batting line-up.”