Aussie squad: Selectors to make big call on Pucovski
Will Pucovski is set to storm into Australia's Test squad later this week, as selectors zero in on a 17-man roster to take down India.
The Victorian super bat is headed towards a second consecutive double century in the Sheffield Shield, and his rush of history-making form comes on the back of a significant statement he made on a recent podcast that he felt he would be mentally ready for a Test debut this summer.
At the very least, Australian selectors will want Pucovski in the squad, but his case to open the batting alongside David Warner has become close to irresistible, particularly with incumbent Joe Burns struggling for runs.
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The bigger debate might be whether Burns can survive in the squad at all, with heat being applied by veteran Usman Khawaja after a timely century, and Victoria's other opener Marcus Harris.
Michael Neser and James Pattinson shape as Australia's top reserve fast bowler options for the extended squad, while Sean Abbott and Jackson Bird have built strong cases for inclusion as a third back-up option, if that's required for the balance of the bubble party.
Queensland spinner Mitchell Swepson appears set to be drafted into the Test squad at some stage this summer, but likely from the start to cover the prospect of a Nathan Lyon finger injury in a summer where flying in a replacement at the drop of a hat isn't necessarily that easy.
There is increasing confidence that squad extras might be able to play Big Bash matches during Tests, if they're not in the 12.
Test great Ian Healy last week called for selectors to do what they haven't done previously and back Burns in.
Burns was axed for last year's Ashes despite scoring 180 in his last Test, however, circumstances are different this time because it's been almost a full year since Australia's last Test and Pucovski is in undisputedly golden form.
Khawaja presents an intriguing case for a squad environment because he can bat anywhere in the top four and has a proven record in Australian conditions.
Australian selectors are looking to name Australia's Test squad later this week, and met last week to also map out who would represent Australia A in the two tour matches scheduled for late November and early December.
Pucovski has been on the verge of Test selection the past two summers, but has struggled at moments with his mental wellbeing and selectors have taken as supportive and cautious approach.
The 22-year-old has been incredibly mature in talking openly about what he's been through, and his recent assertion on The Risk Equation Podcast would give selectors' confidence that he's finally ready for the step up.
"I see how far I've come and how much closer I am to being ready for that next level and I'm at a stage now where I feel I actually am, and truly believe I'd have the mental processes and capabilities to get there," Pucovski told podcast host, Dr Chris Maguire.
Possible Australian 17-man Test squad
David Warner, Will Pucovski, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Cameron Green, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Mitchell Swepson, Joe Burns/Usman Khawaja, Sean Abbott/Jackson Bird