Arun Lal: ‘Club cricket in a state of inertia in Bengal’

“In Bengal, we suffer from a paucity of grounds which means we end up playing most of our cricket in smaller grounds. Climatically, we can't play for five months so these inherent factors affect our local cricket,” Bengal coach Arun Lal said.

Bengal coach Arun Lal admitted that the team underperformed in domestic cricket this season.   -  Ayan Acharya

Following its emphatic 159-run win against minnow Mizoram, Bengal suffered a crushing nine-wicket defeat against heavyweight Karnataka in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Cuttack on Friday.

Coming close on the heels of an average Ranji outing, which saw Bengal win only two of its eight group games, head coach Arun Lal deliberates on the season as it draws to a close.

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What have been the lessons from this domestic season so far?

It has been a disappointing one for Bengal. I had a lot more ambitions for them. They are a talented bunch capable of playing much better than this. We have to improve our fitness, intent and preparation before the next season. Identifying what skill sets need to be worked on for each player is also very important.

“We have a vision 2020 programme where greats like Muralitharan, (VVS) Laxman and Waqar (Younis) come and coach the youngsters but to me personally, 80 per cent of an association's job is to get a competitive league going, not coaching so much.”

One of Bengal's problems has been its inability to string together a series of wins. What is ailing the squad?

Consistency can take a hit in a format like T20. But even in Ranji Trophy, we have been inconsistent. Batting was a problem and our bowling lacked aggression. Yes, there are three to four players who are getting on with age but we have a young squad by and large. Our under-23 is doing well, so I'm buoyant about our chances going forward but to be honest, we've underperformed this time.

You have followed Bengal cricket closely, first as a player and now as a coach. How do you rate local cricket back home?

Club cricket can get much better. It is immersed in inertia. In Bengal, we suffer from a paucity of grounds which means we end up playing most of our cricket in smaller grounds. Climatically, we can't play for five months so these inherent factors affect our local cricket.

We have a robust association which does everything very well except they are not very amenable to change. Recently, with Sourav (Ganguly) at the helm, things are changing. But in the 30 years before that, not even a leaf turned.

What is the roadmap for Bengal cricket going forward?

We have a vision 2020 programme where greats like Muralitharan, (VVS) Laxman and Waqar (Younis) come and coach the youngsters but to me personally, 80 per cent of an association's job is to get a competitive league going, not coaching so much.

If you have a league like that, then talent will start coming out from every nook and corner. The association is bending its back to provide us with everything and now it's up to the boys to repose the faith.