Talented batter Will Pucovski insists his mental health battles have been more difficult to deal with than the repeated concussions he has suffered during a stop-start career.

In a close-to-the heart interview, the 26-year-old Victorian has explained he has never considered retirement due to suffering head knocks while batting.

But Pucovski admitted the mental health challenges he has dealt with since he was a teenager and the 11 concussions were “linked”.

Pucovski, who made his one and only Test appearance for Australia in January 2021, has been declared fit to return for Victoria’s crucial Sheffield Shield clash with NSW, starting at the SCG on Friday.

“The concussion stuff is definitely linked but there’s also a lot of talk about retirement in regarding concussions,” he told the Vic State Cricket podcast.

“(Victorian coach Chris Rogers) was definitely right that the concussions have masked the bigger issues and that’s the mental health stuff.

“The mental health has been a much bigger issue for me than even the concussions.

“I don’t fear for my long-term health, it’s more the mental health side that’s been the tougher part.”

Pucovski recorded the interview a week before being struck on the helmet while batting in a second XI game on January 22.

He was cleared of concussion at the time, but experienced delayed symptoms in the following days and missed Victoria’s last-start match against South Australia.

The decision was made to hold off on publishing the interview until one of Australia’s most promising Test batters of the last decade was again ready to play.

After taking leave for mental health reasons in 2022, Pucovski opted to resume his cricket career this summer.

“One day I’ll be ready to tell my whole story and it will probably make a lot more sense,” he said.

“I’ve explained what I’ve been through to my inner circle of people and actually all the responses I’ve got have been like ‘Jesus, I would never have guessed that in a million years, that doesn’t even make sense to me’.

“It hasn’t made sense to me for years, either, but I’ve been on this pathway to understand it all.

“I didn’t feel comfortable even speaking to psychologists about what I’ve been through for five or six years.

“When I made a double hundred in Perth when I was 20, I would have received hundreds of messages from people along the lines of ‘you must be so happy’, but I was so miserable.”

Pucovski has played four Sheffield Shield matches this season with a top score of 65 and also featured in a tour game for Victoria against Pakistan.

“Getting through those four games (this season) was the biggest confidence booster I probably could’ve ever got and given me belief,” he said.

“I’m not expecting to get a clean run and it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows from here.

“I feel like at (26) … I can look at the next 10-12 years and I can genuinely see myself being able to do this and get through.”

Pucovski also said he was “hurt” by suggestions earlier in his career that he was unable to handle the pressure of a potential international career.

“I remember some articles coming out saying I was nervous and stuff and I was like ‘if only you knew’,” he said.

“I’m actually fighting something that’s really, really tough.

“For people to just assume without any knowledge of the situation was pretty offensive.”

AAP

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