After a successful county stint with Nottinghamshire, Indian batting star Cheteshwar Pujara feels that playing county cricket helps an individual to ‘develop as a cricketer’.
Pujara was one of the prime reasons behind India’s dominating display in the mammoth home season where they won 10 out of the 13 Tests while losing just one as they defeated New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. The right-handed batsman was India’s highest run-scorer in the 2016-17 season, scoring a staggering 1316 runs. However, despite the impressive performances, he did not find a buyer in the Indian Premier League auction but instead of sitting at home, the Saurashtra star signed for Nottinghamshire. He scored 223 runs for the county outfit in four matches including a match-winning hundred against Gloucestershire
The move paid rich dividends as he had a brilliant outing in the recently-concluded Test series against Sri Lanka which he finished as the second-highest run scorer. He scored 309 runs at an average of over 77 with the help of two centuries. And the 29-year old has credited his county stint for continuing his form in the island nation.
“Going into the Test series, I wanted to continue batting the way I have in the last one-and-half years. I was well-prepared for it since I went to play county cricket (for Nottinghamshire) ahead of the series. Also, I had played in Sri Lanka during the 2015 series and that gave me a lot of confidence,” he told The Times of India.
“Playing county cricket is about being in that environment and batting on those wickets which seam and have a bit of bounce. It’s all about getting the experience and nothing related to your technique. Once you reach a certain point (in your career), your technique is very much decided and all you need to do is fine-tune it,” he added.
Pujara’s India teammate Ravichandran Ashwin is set to ply his trade for Worcestershire in the coming days. The off-spinner has been lethal on Indian pitches but has struggled to replicate those performances on overseas wickets and Pujara feels playing county cricket will give the bowler an idea about how to perform in those conditions.
“If you start playing county cricket, you start having an idea about how to perform in those conditions. I believe county cricket helps you grow as a cricketer. I feel if you want to play Test cricket and aim to do well in different venues, county cricket is the way to go. I will soon be heading back to play a few more games for my county,” he said.
When asked whether more Indian players should head towards England keeping in mind the next World Cup, the batsman said:
“Not just looking at the 2019 World Cup, but to develop as a cricketer, it is important to have county experience. Whether it is ODI or Tests, whenever there is an opportunity, cricketers should certainly play county matches.”