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Cheteshwar Pujara has had an eventful 2014. South Africa was good to him, New Zealand was colder with its reception, England was worse and now Australia beckons. He spoke with Adiya Iyer of Indian Express about statistics, his mindset and a bizarre dismissal when he was playing English county cricket - he was out handling the ball.
I am motivated by criticism, to be honest. I'm never hurt by it. Because I was taught very early in life that failure teaches you more than success ever can. So when I am not scoring runs, I am expecting criticism because I have already criticised myself for it. The idea is to challenge yourself before anybody else has an opportunity to. This is why nobody had to coax me to get a county stint in Derbyshire. I knew there was a problem and had already made up my mind to find solutions.
Last week's figures about the decline in participation in English club cricket set alarm bells ringing although they were only confirmation of what many had been saying for years. The ECB has promised to take action to reverse the decline, but for some clubs - often with rich histories dating back decades - it may already be too late. In the Sunday Telegraph, Nick Hoult looks at the stories of various village and town sides that have hit hard times and speaks to those trying to balance the books and keep a vital part of the game alive.
Close geographically to Thixendale but a world away in terms of cricket is the Lancashire League, which once could rival county cricket for crowds and star overseas players. Now many clubs are faced with big debts and the days of signing overseas stars such as Allan Donald (Rishton), Learie Constantine (Nelson) and a young Shane Warne (Accrington) are long gone.
"It is in the league's rules that you have to sign an overseas player but you have to pay them a salary of over £5,000 for the summer, an air fare, you can't get car insurance for the summer for less than £1,500 and then you have their accommodation costs. Overall it is about £10,000 which could easily pay for three level three coaches doing 100 sessions a year with the kids," Michael Brown, the chairman of Burnley Cricket Club, said.
In the Sydney Morning Herald, Tim Lane states that the empty stands at venues during the Australia-South Africa series are a jolting reminder of how times have changed. He urges administrators to encourage more spectators at the ground, given that gate money is now a minor component of revenue in the sport.
Cricket Australia keeps telling us "but the television numbers are great". And this may be so. But we don't want the soul-less look of big cricket games in empty stadiums here that we see in too many other cricket nations. Tickets should be dirt cheap if that's what it takes. After all, gate money is now a minor component of overall revenue. Crowds must be encouraged at any cost.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar opens up to Jonathan Selvaraj of the Indian Express about his style of bowling, winning the Polly Umrigar award, and India's upcoming tour of Australia.
In the poker game between bat and ball, Bhuvneshwar knows he isn't the only one who can count his opponents cards. "Batsmen know that I swing the ball both ways so they will be ready for that. My goal is to delay what they think I am going to do until the last moment," he says. That, however, is something that doesn't usually happen. "The batsman isn't a fool. He knows what I am thinking. He will consciously plan not to get out in that manner. If he does get out, he usually gets out some other way because that's not where his focus is. So if the plan is to get a batsman out caught behind, I will probably only get him out that way around 20 percent of the time," he says.
Flinders Island is located in the Bass Strait, between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia. It has no organised sport, and yet in the not-so-distant future it could have its first first-class cricketer. Writing in the Age, Peter Hanlon tells Ryan Lees' story.
He played in the first XI in his last three years of school, improving from medium pacer to genuine fast bowler, and relished testing himself against good opposition after a mate encouraged him to play in the Imparja Cup in Alice Springs. Lees is a seventh-generation Flinders Islander, indigenous through his father's side of the family. He describes his Aboriginality as "very important ... a big part of my life". Jason Lees doesn't ponder it often, noting that many Straitsmen generations back had Aboriginal wives. "We've just always classed ourselves as islanders and got on with everyone really."
In an interview with Andrew Webster of the Sydney Morning Herald, Brian Lara recalls his earliest memories of cricket and the aggressive on-field encounters he had with the Australian side. While he refuses to name specific players, he admits that handling Glenn McGrath was particularly difficult.
"Yes, I can identify [Glenn] McGrath as being my nemesis. He got me out however many times. Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Steve Waugh, Ian Healy, Adam Gilchrist … None of them let up. I think I have a lot of respect for their teamwork. I was envious to see how they operated as a team and how they demolished teams I was involved with. It would be wrong to single out any player."