Free Press Journal

Pujara should go and play county cricket, says Azhar


Mumbai : A stint in English county cricket when he is not part of any IPL franchise would do India’s top batsman Cheteshwar Pujara a world of good to counter the moving and bouncing balls in future when he tours overseas, feels former captain Mohammed Azharuddin.

“I would like those who are not playing IPL, especially Pujara, to go and play county cricket in England. He would encounter different types of wickets especially in April and May which will give good experience and exposure.      “It will help him when he tours England or other places where the ball moves around and also bounces,” Azhar said here. The former stylish batsman spoke to the reporters after listening to former Test player Yajurvindra Singh addressing the inaugural “Raj Singh Memorial Spirit of Cricket Lecture” at the Cricket Club of India.

Describing the former BCCI and CCI President Raj Singh as an “outstanding personality”, a “man of etiquette” and a “father-like figure to me”, Azhar, who was made the India captain on then selection panel chief Raj Singh’s insistence, backed the decision of some top Indian players, who are injured, to skip IPL 10. “If they are not fit then there’s no need for them to play instead of playing and suddenly going to play for the country and finding themselves not fit. Everyone should know their fitness levels,” said the 99-Test veteran who was among the fittest cricketers of his generation and a brilliant fielder to boot.     Azhar also concurred with former captain Sourav Ganguly’s views that current captain Virat Kolhi’s on-field display of emotions affected his batting in the just-concluded Test series against Australia.

“I tend to agree (with Ganguly), but that’s how he plays the game,” said the former captain who had scored over 15,500 runs combined in Tests and 334 ODIs, including 22 tons in Tests, before being banned for life by BCCI for his alleged role in the 2000-01 spot-fixing scandal.  “Against Australia, probably he (Kohli) was so consumed by wanting to win as captain that he let his emotions affect his batting. This will also serve as a lesson for Virat. He’s such a precocious talent, I hope he cools down and gets back to scoring big again,” Ganguly wrote in an exclusive column for the International Cricket Council website.