Will Pukowski is determined not to be Test cricket’s forgotten man.
The 24-year-old looked poised to realize his inevitable potential as a bona fide test opener when he scored consecutive two tons in the Sheffield Shield in November 2020. A few months later, this time two years before him.
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He scored a classy half-century against India, and all the rest was to be history from there.
He hasn’t worn baggy greens since.
A mix of concussion and mental health setbacks have left the young star no chance of playing at the top level, let alone playing at all.
“It’s been really hard because you get a taste of it, you get a taste of the bugs, and for some reason you back off a little bit,” he said while appearing as a guest commentator on Channel 7’s Test Cricket coverage.
“This is just a card you’ve been dealt. Just looking for different ways to make things work.”
Current Australian captain Pat Cummins likewise emerged on the scene as a young man, taking 12 wickets on his South African debut aged 18.
Three stress fractures to his back followed, and Cummins was out of the test arena for another six years.
Pukowski said he takes inspiration from Australian skippers.
“Pat Cummins, for example, came on the scene quite young and was incredible in testing in South Africa,” he said.
“He had a back injury, so I try to look at him as if he’s a recurring head injury.
“If you have a recurring back injury or hamstring injury, you’re going to look at different avenues and methods to try and fix that problem. That’s what I’m doing right now.”
But Pukowski’s return could come sooner than expected.
The first step in that timeline, he said, was with his father.
“I started picking up the bat again.
“We plan to return to proper training in mid-January, but it is a bit of a fluid process. There is no fixed date, but we are working as hard as anyone to ensure that we can return to any form of cricket as soon as possible. is.”
Doctors have confirmed that his setbacks are separate but related.
Complicating matters is that his well-being is in the interests of not only himself and his family, but Australian cricketers as a whole.
“It’s been a very interesting journey to say the least,” he said. “Being in the public eye can be very difficult at times, but it’s something I understand and has to be dealt with.
“As far as the head is concerned, it’s very complicated, and there’s a lot going into it. Concussions and how it affects health in certain areas, and it’s all very likely related. But I’m doing absolutely everything’ to be able to get back there.
“Going back there and being an established test player is a dream that has never left me and I think it will never leave me. .”
Co-commentator and former coach of Pukowski, Justin Langer, said he was an “inspiration” for others hitting the same thing as him, and that it was music to the ears of young role models.
“You are very kind, JL,” he said. “I kind of want to change the narrative, and I’m shifting a little bit on that.
“I want to inspire people both on and off the field.At the moment it feels like everything is off the field.
“I’m only 24 but I’m so grateful to have played cricket for so long. I look at the big picture and hopefully have 11 or 12 years of my career left Then we can do something that will inspire the next generation on and off the field.”