Arun Lal: 'My role is to augment coach and help the team tactically'

Arun Lal was part of the side when Bengal last won the Ranji Trophy back in the 1989-90 season and had also coached the side in the late 90s and as Bengal gears up to play Tamil Nadu after a heavy defeat to Kerala, Lal understands the team needs a few outright wins to progress ahead.

Arun Lal said it was a request from CAB and Sourav Ganguly when they asked him to lend the benefit of his experience for the Bengal Ranji team.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

For close to two decades, Arun Lal was a constant voice behind the microphone calling cricket matches, until a rare jaw cancer took him away from the commentary box, a couple of years ago.

Since his treatment, the 63-year old has been happy in indulging in some of his other passions like travel, and the environment till last month when a call from CAB President Sourav Ganguly came through asking him to mentor the Bengal cricket team.

In the city as part of the Bengal team ahead of the team’s Ranji Trophy clash against Tamil Nadu starting Wednesday, Lal said, “It was a request from CAB and Sourav when they asked me to lend the benefit of my experience for a team that was not doing well in Ranji Trophy in recent times and did not do well in one-dayers too.”

Lal added his role was to augment coach Sairaj Bahutule and help the team strategically apart from mentoring the players. “If you want to win Ranji Trophy, you have to try and find whatever ways and means to even benefit by one per cent wherever.”

Incidentally, Lal was part of the side when Bengal last won the Ranji Trophy back in the 1989-90 season and had also coached the side in the late 90s.

The side comes into the game after a heavy defeat to Kerala at home in Kolkata and Lal understands the team needs a few outright wins to progress ahead.

Lal who runs a coaching academy in Kolkata added that commentating and coaching complemented each other saying, “Commentary is very analytical and as a commentator, you are always looking at one thing that adds value to the viewer. Similarly, in coaching when a guy is not doing well, you see how I can add value and help him get out of it.”

Commenting on his fellow colleague and commentator-turned coach Ravi Shastri, Lal said, “Ravi is naturally aggressive in a positive way. Virat Kohli and he complement each other. Virat is an inspiration to the nation, not just cricketers.”

On his health, Lal explained, “It is a tightrope and not something I can be cured of. But at the same time, it is not a fast growing one, allowing time to fight back. I just have to take care of myself well and go for my scans regularly.”

While he was asked for a three-season stint, Lal — an ardent environmentalist and conservationist known for his ties with prints of birds and animals — has preferred to take it one season at a time saying, “My perspectives have changed. I need time for my family, friends and birds. The environment is a big passion of mine.”