According to Mark Taylor, Will Pucovski could be away from cricket for an “extended period” to get his health in order and still have enough time to build a long Test career.
The beleaguered striker made his 13-month return to professional cricket last week, heading to Victoria in the Sheffield Shield a year after a shoulder injury sadly made his Australian Test debut.
But on Saturday morning, Pucovski was forced out of the game after sustaining a concussion when he accidentally kicked a football in his head during a warm-up with his teammates.
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It’s the 11th time the 24-year-old has suffered a concussion, and it’s a lingering problem that now threatens to end his cricketing career before he’s properly taken off.
He missed the entire Test summer after suffering a concussion in pre-season, and has now suffered another concussion just two days after returning.
The latest incident prompted Pucovski to retire immediately, to safeguard his future health.
“I’m very reluctant to rule anyone out at the age of 24,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports today.
“Obviously he has a greater susceptibility to those kinds of injuries, that’s quite logical. But I’m certainly not an expert in that, so I don’t know what can and can’t be done.
“With the talent he has – he can definitely play – the age of 24 is too early to rule him out.
“He may need a long period (of absence) and some sort of rehab program. I’m sure he’s working with the experts to figure out what that might be like.”
While Saturday’s incident was different, many of Pucovski’s concussions are a direct result of being hit by a cricket ball.
After watching Pucovski play, Taylor thinks the young hitter needs to adjust his technique when facing short-pitch bowling.
“I think he has some work to do on the short ball, for sure,” Taylor said.
“This is her 11th concussion, but not all of them are from short-distance deliveries. But a number of them have.
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“I think he has more work to do on the short ball, and that probably goes hand in hand with his rehabilitation from this type of injury, if there is any rehabilitation.
“He has potentially 12 or 14 years ahead of him in cricket.”
It has been suggested that Pucovski’s struggles against the short ball could be a mental issue as much as a technical flaw.
Getting hit in the helmet by a ball traveling over 130 mph is sure to make any sane person cringe slightly at the next delivery, which could change the way a batter would approach the game.
Taylor thinks Pucovski’s technique should be corrected by a cricket coach first, and hopefully mental improvement will follow.
“I think the technical side would probably come first,” he said.
“A lot of players these days, there’s no doubt the techniques have changed. Players are looking to advance a lot more than before.
“With the advent of helmets and all sorts of guards these days, it’s kind of taken the fear factor out of playing short ball.
“It’s a good thing, but it means players are putting their heads in positions they’ve never used.
“You always have to maintain your physical health when playing, even if you have good protection.
“I would find the right technique. And then if it’s good and he’s comfortable with it, I think the mental side will come with that.”
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