With the Champions Trophy just a couple of days away, the focus in the sports pages of newspapers on Monday (May 29) was mainly on the prestigious tournament and the key issues to focus on, From Ian Chappell to Brian Lara and Wriddhiman Saha, everyone had his say on how the tournament would unfold. Away from the cricket, Aleem Dar’s new look grabbed plenty of eyeballs.

Over in Australia, the ongoing pay row continued to rage on, with the Federal Sports Minister saying he would intervene to ‘fix’ it for once and for all.

Government feels time not right for Pak series (The New Indian Express)

Speaking to Express, Goel said that he was unaware that the two boards are meeting in Dubai. “I don’t know about the meeting, but as I said couple of days ago, when it comes to India playing Pakistan in multilateral events, the government has not control. But when it comes to bilateral events we have With what is happening right now, I feel terrorism and sports cannot go side by side.”

‘Let’s focus on the cricket’ (The Daily Star)

Former India captain Kapil Dev said he hoped the row over the ICC’s revenue sharing, which almost led to an Indian boycott of the Champions Trophy, would not affect performances on the field.

“I hope all this talk doesn’t impact the players. But today, media putting so much focus on everything it must be having some effect on them when they read and see the news,” Kapil, the 1983 World Cup winning captain, said.

“As a sportsman I just want to be bothered about cricket on the field.

Lara’s tip for Champs Trophy glory (Cricket.com.au)

England are warm favourites heading into the tournament – a tag they’ve claimed they’re deserving of after a transformative two years under new coach Trevor Bayliss that has seen them develop one of the most feared batting units in ODI cricket.

And Brian Lara, whose Windies team beat England in the final of the 2004 edition of the tournament, said it was their fearsome batting unit that prompted him to declare the hosts likely champions.

Starc bullish ahead of return to cricket (Cricket.com.au)

The left-armer had flagged his uncertainty about his performance heading into that tour of the Caribbean given how long he’d been out of the game, but he’s confident there won’t be a repeat of that this week in Birmingham, where Australia will begin their tournament against New Zealand on Friday.

Why Hashim Amla is the most dangerous batsman at ICC Champions Trophy (Hindustan Times)

Despite the fact that Hashim Amla averages in the fifties and has 24 centuries in ODIs, he still goes unnoticed, perhaps due to the ease at which he scores.

But his recent exploits in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where Amla not only smashed two centuries but also kept his strike rate over 145, aggregating 420 runs in 10 innings for Kings XI Punjab, busted notions regarding his limited-over abilities.

Ian Chappell: IPL boost, no secret for India! (Mid-day.com)

Kohli’s men have tuned up for this tournament with a glut of T20 games in the IPL. This may turn out to be a good preparation, especially when followed by a couple of 50-over warm-up games to get the mind fully attuned to the longer version. T20 cricket ensures batsmen are looking for runs and of late, bowlers have focused more on taking wickets; the ideal mind-set for both facets of the 50-over game.

India will retain Champions Trophy, says Saha (The Hindu)

Saha backed captain Virat Kohli and former captain M.S. Dhoni to do well. “Virat is always positive on and off the field. He never thinks if I fail then what. Whenever he plays a shot he is 110 per cent sure. Everybody goes through lean patches. He will overcome that. Dhoni has been playing as per the team’s needs.”

Former national selector Bhupinder Singh Sr questions PCA functioning (The Indian Express)

Alleging irregularities, former national selector Bhupinder Singh Sr. has questioned the functioning of the Punjab Cricket Association.

The PCA immediately hit back and warned him of legal action. The 52-year-old Bhupinder has dubbed the “unchanging faces” in the PCA “bahubalis”.

Hashim Amla suggested Aleem Dar to grow beard, see the umpire’s new look (The Indian Express)

Umpire Aleem Dar gave a surprise to the spectators when he took the field to officiate the warm-up game between India and New Zealand. Dar who is generally seen clean shaved has grown his beard.

Aleem, while speaking to PTV Sports told that it was Hashim Amla who suggested him to grow his beard in the islamic way. The elegant South African batsman himself sports a beard.

John Buchanan’s seven-point plan to restructure cricket (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Three direct ways to do this will be to: 1) reduce the size and spending on the cricket bureaucracy; 2) cap spending on elite pathways, programs and professional athletes; and 3) increase spending to grassroots, clubs, schools and regions to a minimum of 35 per cent of gross revenue.

I’ll fix cricket pay row: Hunt (The West Australian)

Federal Sports Minister Greg Hunt says he will intervene to make sure Australia fields its strongest possible Ashes team, amid lock out and boycott threats that have cast a shadow over the series.

Mr Hunt told the ABC yesterday it would be “unthinkable” for Australia to field a second-rate team for the Ashes, as deadlines loom in a pay stand-off between Cricket Australia and its players. Australian cricketers will be out of contract by July, and some have raised the prospect of an Ashes boycott if the dispute is not resolved.

Emirates Cricket Board appoint Dougie Brown full-time UAE national team coach (The National)

The former England international served a highly successful three-month spell in interim charge, before leaving earlier this month.

He now takes over the reins permanently from Aaqib Javed, the former Pakistan bowler, who resigned the post a year ago. “It is a huge honour to be appointed head coach of the UAE national team,” Brown said.

Ben Stokes has matured as a person and cricketer, says Ian Botham (Sky Sports)

Stokes made South Africa pay for dropping him off the first and second ball he faced and Botham told Sky Sports that the Proteas only had themselves to blame.

“Hashim Amla barely got a hand on one of the easiest catches you’ll ever get at slip,” said the former England allrounder.

“If you let him [Stokes] off the hook, he makes you pay. He was magnificent. He’s so powerful down the ground and he drags the ball well; he can drive it too. You can’t set fields to straight hits like his. I think he likes batting against South Africa.

England will be without Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali for third ODI against South Africa, but they insist absences are only precautionary (The Daily Mail)

England are facing an injury crisis at the worst possible time with three key players ruled out of Monday’s final one-day international against South Africa and the Champions Trophy just four days away.

In the absence of the trio England have called up the Middlesex pair of Steven Finn and the uncapped Toby Roland-Jones and Hampshire’s left-arm spinner Liam Dawson rather than relying on Champions Trophy squad players.