Pucovski could play first Test: Handscomb

Will Pucovski has been backed to add to his lone Test appearance for Australia in the Ashes.
Will Pucovski has been backed to add to his lone Test appearance for Australia in the Ashes.

Victoria are growing increasingly bullish about Will Pucovski's chances of playing in the first Ashes Test, with the opener on track to return for his state next week.

Pucovski has not played since suffering a shoulder injury last summer, with his return pushed back by a concussion at training this month.

The hit to the head in the nets marked the 10th concussion of the 23-year-old's career, as the prodigy fights to add to his Test debut in January.

Pucovski is not part of Victoria's team to start their Sheffield Shield campaign against NSW in Sydney on Wednesday, but has been earmarked for the return bout on November 5.

That would give him almost five weeks to be ready for the Gabba Test on December 8, with two weeks of quarantine also required in that period.

Victoria coach Chris Rogers last week backed him to return to the Test side, adamant he would have him in the team as soon as he proved the concussion scare was behind him.

And captain Peter Handscomb went one step further on Tuesday, claiming he could step straight back up to international level if fit to play for Victoria.

"As soon as he feels he's ready to go he'll be fine," Handscomb said, when asked if Pucovski could go straight into Australia's Ashes squad after next week's return.

"He's not one that needs to hit a lot of balls to be feeling back in the middle and timing it well.

"He's just got such a natural eye that a couple of hits and he will be ready to go.

"If he is available for our second Shield game, even on minimal hits he'll be fine.

"I'm not worried about him for our Shield game or the Ashes summer if he does get a crack."

Handscomb said Pucovkski seemed in good spirits as he recovered from the latest blow.

If he does miss out, a two-way battle between Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris looms for an opening spot.

Khawaja hit 174 in his most recent innings for Queensland, while Harris is coming off an English summer in which he scored four centuries.

"Harry's played over in England for this season, he's played more red-ball games than anyone else that could be in the Test squad," Handscomb said.

Handscomb, meanwhile, has not given up on his own Test hopes, adding he still has six years of cricket in him and can force his way back with the weight of runs.

This week's clash at Drummoyne Oval ends a long period of waiting for Victoria and NSW.

They both had attempts to cross borders with full quarantine denied, while NSW have had months of players training apart and even alone at local nets while in areas of concern.

"There was a part of the group that was almost like, 'what are we training for?'" Blues captain Kurtis Patterson said.

Australian Associated Press