Aussies lacked courage to take boldest step
BRAVE but not brave enough. Australia deserved their plaudits for picking Will Pucovski in the first Test squad against Sri Lanka but it's unfortunate they could not muster the courage to play him.
He looked good in the nets. He looked ready for the occasion. The hard work of picking him despite his mental health challenges had been done.
The 20-year-old was the romantic feel-good story Australian cricket was craving.
Romance is not the reason you pick Test teams but it can be confirmed the first Test against Sri Lanka won't be quite the same without him.
The old argument of "let's get him in and around the group to make him settle in'' sounds good in theory but the question now is when do you play him?
If Pucovski misses the second Test against Sri Lanka the next stop is the Ashes which would be a mountainous challenge for a youngster on debut.
Michael Slater carved up England as a rookie in his first Ashes tour but debuting in England against a Dukes ball Jimmy Anderson can hoop around a corner is a treacherous business.
Pucovski's absence aside, Australia's two debutants - Jhye Richardson and Kurtis Patterson - are inspiring stories of their own and Joe Burns another comeback tale to be proud of.
Richardson's success is a victory for his iron-willed determination to prove himself at his craft even though many thought he was too small to be a fast bowler.
He played with Pucovski in the Australian under-19 team which toured England in 2015 and has been on Australia's radar ever since.
Patterson is not the romantic tale Pucovski would have been but there is substantial goodwill towards a player that Mark Waugh calls a "well balanced individual.''
You only has to hear his solid, sincere unpretentious press conference to feel you were listening to the real person and an impressive one at that.
The fact that he has scored a truckload of 50s but few centuries until his recent surge should not be considered a black mark for sometimes that is a measure of consistency.
Right now, Australia, as well as craving a century-maker, also needs a bricks and mortar batsmen who can grind out 60s and 70s on a regular basis.
Burns can be proud of his fightback.
He is made of stern stuff and has been a consistent Sheffield Shield run-scorer without ever being the glamour boy who attracts big name support or makes the selectors pulses race.
This is a huge Test for him. Australia had been plotting to take his Queensland partner Matt Renshaw to England but Burns' challenge is now to make it impossible to ignore him.
Australia has not make a Test score above 79 this domestic summer.
If Burns makes one against Sri Lanka he will be halfway to Heathrow.