Will Pucovski is set to play his first game for Victoria in nearly 12 months after overcoming a broken thumb in time for this week’s Sheffield Shield opener.
But Test hopeful Marcus Harris will miss his first chance to make an impression on national selectors ahead of the looming Test retirement of David Warner, skipping the match after the birth of his first child.
Pucovski, who played his lone Test to date in January 2021, has not played first-class cricket since the second game of the last Shield season having battled injuries and his well-documented mental health struggles.
He broke his thumb at the end of a stint playing club cricket in England over winter, but Victorian coach Chris Rogers confirmed that Pucovski would be ready to face Western Australia in Perth.
“To have someone like him coming to your side is amazing. It‘s exciting because you know how good he is and it’s been a stuttered few years,” Rogers said after Victoria’s one-day win last Friday
“But he‘s been really positive. He had a really good time in England where he was playing non-stop. He’s been working through his issues and he seems like he’s ready to go.
“We know there‘s going to be some challenges along the way, we don’t think it’s going to be necessarily just smooth sailing.
“But we‘re really hopeful that here on it’s going to be really positive.”
The Vics will have a new captain in Will Sutherland and veteran seamer Peter Siddle also returns to finish his career in his home state after playing with Tasmania.
“We’re excited for Will Sutherland to lead the side as the official Shield captain after he was appointed last month, and this is the natural next step for him in his career,” Rogers said.
“We’ll miss Marcus Harris but family always comes first and we fully support his decision to stay home with his wife and child following the birth of his son last week.”
Harris, who is among the frontrunners to replace Warner who has signalled his intent to retire from Test cricket this summer, will have ample opportunities to press his claims with five more Shield matches before Australia plays the West Indies in two matches at the end of January.
Warner has declared he wants to bow out, pending selection, in the third Test against Pakistan at the SCG, the series which precedes the Windies games.
The clash, which begins on Wednesday, is a re-match of the past two Shield finals, both won by WA.