Arun Lal: People don’t realise how difficult it is to coach a Ranji Trophy team

After expressing his inability to carry on as Bengal coach for next season, Arun Lal plans to return to the commentary box.

Lal, a cancer survivor, was a noted commentator but he had to leave the job with mic after he took over as the Bengal coach.

Lal, a cancer survivor, was a noted commentator but he had to leave the job with mic after he took over as the Bengal coach. | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

After expressing his inability to carry on as Bengal coach for next season, Arun Lal plans to return to the commentary box.

Bengal coach Arun Lal has decided not to continue as the Bengal coach any longer. After guiding the team to two consecutive Ranji Trophy knockouts, Lal met the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) on Tuesday and formally submitted his resignation.

Confirming the development, Lal told Sportstar that he took the decision after much deliberation. “I have expressed my inability to carry on for next year. More or less the job is done. It’s a very tough job, it takes nine months and non-stop 24x7, so I was a little tired. People don’t realise how difficult it is to coach a Ranji Trophy team,” Lal said.

After taking over as the coach four years ago, Lal worked hard with the Bengal team and ensured that it reached the final in 2019-20 season before going down to Saurashtra. This time, too, it reached the semifinal but was defeated by Madhya Pradesh.

“The team is doing well and happy with the way they have been performing. I feel they are a force in Indian cricket now and in the near future, they will certainly win a few trophies or will at least be among the top five in every format,” Lal said.

“When you look at the Ranji Trophy now, I am very impressed with the competition. The two teams that played the final this year (Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh) did not qualify last year and out of the four semi-finalists last time, only team - Bengal - qualified to the knockouts and even last year’s winner Saurashtra did not qualify. So, big things are happening and it is a very tough job…”

The seasoned coach admitted that he took a bit of time after the season to think about his future and decided that it would not be possible to continue anymore. “I thought about it for 15-20 days and then decided that it is the right time to move on. I am very happy with the boys and no coach can ask for a better bunch of boys in terms of work ethics, talent, respect, effort… I really enjoyed being with them,” Lal said.

Lal, a cancer survivor, was a noted commentator but he had to leave the job with mic after he took over as the Bengal coach. But now, he wants to return to the commentary box.

“I am already on a high. It is a tough decision because I enjoyed every moment but I also need some time for myself to travel and do other things, and I would like to do some commentary. In coaching, of the nine months you spend seven months travelling and you are always under pressure, so it is not easy. I am satisfied that Bengal is on a high,” he said.

While he does not plan to take up any full-time coaching role just yet, Lal is open to a mentor role. “I don’t mind being a mentor, but not a hands-on coach. If I get an offer from other states for any mentoring role, I will consider that,” Lal said. Asked if the CAB would offer him a mentor role, the coach said, “that’s not up to me…”

While CAB president Avishek Dalmiya is currently in the United Kingdom, the secretary Snehasish Ganguly accepted Lal’s resignation. The CAB is yet to decide on the next coach, but quite a few names - including that of Laxmi Ratan Shukla - are doing the rounds. However, the state association plans to take a call over the next few weeks.

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