All-rounder Mitch Marsh was the incumbent No.6 but is nursing a broken wrist, meaning Travis Head and Pucovski appear to be jostling for the middle-order role.
Jones, elevated into Australian cricket’s Hall of Fame this year, said Pucovski should be given the full five Tests this summer – two against Pakistan and three against New Zealand – to make a splash.
“We need to develop our next players. There are two seniors in Warner and Smith, then there are the intermediary players and then we have Pucovski as the junior,” Jones said.
“He will be OK – just surround him now with quality people and coaches.”
Pucovski was selected for the Brisbane Test against Sri Lanka last summer but, to the surprise of many, was usurped by Kurtis Patterson, a fellow debutant who was drafted into the XI after the initial squad had been selected.
The stylish right-hander, who thrives on spending hours at the crease, emerged as a serious contender last summer with 243 against Western Australia and he has made two red-ball centuries since.
Jones, the one-time dasher who averaged 46.55 in 52 Tests, said Pucovski’s “defence structure and crease management” were the backbone of his game.
“That’s his strategy, conserving of energy, who to attack, who not to. His defence is good,” he said.
Former Australian captain Mark Taylor has said Pucovski had edged ahead of Head, despite the latter being a Test vice-captain, but form during the ongoing three-day tour match between Australia A and Pakistan in Perth will be important.
Head has more Test runs – 854 – than any Australian since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa but struggled through England and was axed ahead of the final Test, when Marsh was recalled.
Taylor has Pucovski and Head jostling for the No.5 spot, with Wade – now a specialist batsman – at No.6.
The former opener has Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja in a battle to join Warner at the top of the order. Harris was Australia’s leading run scorer against India last summer but has averaged only 14.11 in his past nine Test innings. Khawaja has a better international record but has failed to have an impact in red-ball cricket this summer, heading into the tour match against Pakistan.
Jones said Pucovski’s elevation should not come at the expense of Wade, who delivered two centuries in England.
“Two centuries in an Ashes series means a lot,” he said.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.