Australia coach Justin Langer has dropped a hint that they could yet go with promising prospect Will Pucovski for the first Test against India. The Victoria batsman has been in sensational form in the Sheffield Shield, the country’s domestic first-class competition as he started the season with back-to-back double tons, whereas incumbent opener Joe Burns has averaged just 11.40 for Queensland during the season so far. However, Burns has received public backing from opening partner David Warner as well as Langer himself.
Now though, Langer has said that the two Australia A games will have some bearing on his call for who gets picked in the XI.
“It’s all part of the drama and the circus, if you like, the theatre building up the Test cricket," Langer told SEN Radio.
“It won’t become divisive, hopefully it won’t become a distraction to the players, because we’re talking to them all the time. They’re really clear where they stand.
“And they’ve got an opportunity. There’s an Australia A game, both Joe and Will will play in the Australia A game next week. There’s a second Australia A game, so one of them or both or them will get another opportunity to play against India; we’ll make that decision closer to the date.
“And by the time the Test comes around, my experience is that we’ll be pretty clear who’s going to open the batting. It’s nice to have those discussions.”
To add to Pucovski’s chances, the coach said that he doesn’t necessarily view him as a solely top-order batsman and that he could well slot into the middle order too, although not ahead of Matthew Wade and Travis Head.
“My view is … if you can bat in the top three in Shield cricket, you can bat anywhere in the order for Australia,” Langer said.
“That’s where someone like Will … it gives him the benefit to bat anywhere. He knows how to score hundreds. He sets himself up nicely wherever the opportunity comes up.
“He won’t play in front of (incumbent batsmen) Matthew Wade or Travis Head.”
Langer also stated that he knows no decision he makes on the two openers will please everyone, and he is at peace with that.
“If we pick Will Pucovski and don’t pick Joe Burns, the Queenslanders will think we’re wrong and the Vics will think we’re right, half of Australia will think we’re wrong.
“He (Pucovski) is a gun player, the opportunity hopefully will come for him at some point.”