The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) is thinking about tapping the IPL market to appoint a new coach for the Bengal senior team for the next season, as the incumbent, Arun Lal, is set to be relieved of his duties. It is learnt that the CAB is mulling on the change after Bengal’s defeat to Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy semifinal this term.
Bengal played the Ranji Trophy final in 2019-20 under Lal’s charge and this season, they qualified for the semifinal on the heels of a world record batting performance against Jharkhand, where nine batsmen scored half-centuries in an innings. However, the team’s batting, save Manoj Tiwary and Shahbaz Ahmed’s hundreds in the first innings, imploded against MP. There’s respect for Lal, 66, in the Bengal cricket fraternity, but there’s also a feeling that the team needs a new direction under a younger coach.
According to a CAB insider, the state association was keen on appointing Wasim Jaffer and phone calls were made to the former Mumbai and India opener. But Jaffer has already taken charge of the Bangladesh U-19 team and won’t be available. Former Bengal and India all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who coaches the Bengal U-23 side, is in consideration, but at the moment, he is not the first choice.
“The idea is to appoint a coach who develops our players for the next level, so that they can knock on the Indian team door. It should be a continuous process. Of course, it’s important to win the Ranji Trophy, but this is very important as well,” a CAB official told The Indian Express.The CAB wants a coach who will be in charge of the team’s batting also. “If a coach can look after the team’s batting, we won’t have to separately appoint a batting coach,” said the official.
There’s no embargo on coaching a state team and be part of the coaching set-up of an IPL franchise. Sairaj Bahutule and Amol Muzumdar have coached Gujarat and Mumbai respectively, while being part of the Rajasthan Royals’ coaching set-up. Their contracts with the respective state associations gave them a two-month leeway to be part of the T20 league. The CAB is thinking along the same lines, although no shortlist has been drawn up as yet.
Admiration for Pandit
Sources said the Bengal cricket hierarchy admires Chandrakant Pandit’s work in the domestic circuit. The former Mumbai and India wicketkeeper-batsman has guided MP to the Ranji Trophy final this term, after presiding over Vidarbha’s back-to-back titles. But there’s an apprehension that Pandit’s management style is a little old-school – he prefers a tough-love approach – and might not be suitable for bigger teams. In high-profile dressing rooms, man management becomes the key factor.
It is learnt that the CAB is not averse to make an overseas appointment, if someone like Andy Flower becomes available. At the moment, though, that’s just a back-up plan and a tad far-fetched.