Cancer survivor Arun Lal has brought his tough-love philosophy to the Bengal dressing room
Written by Shamik Chakrabarty
| Kolkata |

Published: March 7, 2020 3:48:17 am

Bengal coach Arun Lal at his Central Calcutta residence forward of the Ranji Trophy last. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

Two days after his surgical procedure that lasted for over 14 hours, when he lastly managed to gulp down some liquid, the medical doctors at the Tata Cancer Hospital & Research in Kolkata clapped. That was when it dawned on Arun Lal what he had been up towards. Even medical doctors weren’t certain he would ever find a way to eat once more. Lal had shed a tear when the medical doctors stated he was out of hazard. That was 2016.

Four years down the line, as Bengal trounced Karnataka to attain the Ranji Trophy last beneath his cost, Lal’s eyes had been moist once more. “It’s more gratifying to achieve success as a coach. It’s like a father watching his children achieving success in life. I won the Ranji Trophy as a player in 1989-90. But if this team goes on and wins the title, I would be happier,” sitting in his again backyard, Lal dips a biscuit into tea, whereas discussing life and cricket.

Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a uncommon kind of most cancers. A minor toothache served as an early symptom. Eventually, when malignancy was detected in early 2016, after an MRI, surgical procedure grew to become a right away requirement.

“Somebody told me, before going to the operation, ‘you write at least a small will; five-six points’… That I did on compulsion. Now I don’t even remember it. Maybe, I have purposedly forgotten it. There’s no point thinking back. Now I have a different perception about life. I’m the happiest now.”

The renaissance man of Bengal cricket, who brought the profitable mentality to the crew as a participant in the 1980s, has now labored his magic as a coach. A course of that began with a gruelling pre-season, with gamers doing 25 rounds day-after-day, could be very shut to coming to fruition. Without Lal, it wouldn’t have occurred. Even Sourav Ganguly knew that.

Bengal coach Arun Lal at his Central Calcutta residence forward of the Ranji Trophy last. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

As a younger participant, Ganguly appeared up to the fighter in Lal. The former India captain and the present BCCI president nonetheless calls Lal his ‘role model’. After bringing him to the Bengal fold as the crew mentor final season, Ganguly, as then Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president, made him the head coach this time period. He knew solely this man was able to uniting a fractured dressing-room. Only Lal might flip a bunch of also-rans right into a champion unit.

The fighter in Lal stonewalled most cancers. It was a triumph of his will. “I have forgotten it yaar. One thing I remember is that it never occurred to me that I’m not going to live through this. Not once did it enter my mind that it’s not going to work out. Never. Don’t ask me why, but just that the fear of not making it never happened with me.”

Easier stated than accomplished. Post-surgery, Lal was taken to a non-AC room just about wrapped in tubes. He wasn’t respiratory from his nostril. He was, in truth, respiratory by means of a machine by means of his gullet.

“That night was very tough. There were eight-nine tubes in me. You are like a living dead body. You are not breathing yourself. You are not urinating yourself. You are not talking. Your mouth is closed. You are not defecating yourself. You can’t move. My right arm was paralysed. My left leg was gone, because they removed everything from there to make my face. There I remember I was trying to breathe and it was appearing very hot. I didn’t realise, even though I was trying to breathe, it wasn’t going in. Because they make a hole in your trachea and put a tube inside into your lungs and they feed the lungs separately.”

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Inside 4 months of his surgical procedure, he was again commentating, as the CAB hosted its Super league last beneath lights, with the pink ball – India’s first-ever multi-day day-night fixture.

Lal is understood to be courageous. Consider what he did at Chepauk 32 years in the past. He stood at silly-point with out sporting the field. Narendra Hirwani, a debutant, was bowling to Viv Richards. Lal didn’t need to upset Hirwani’s rhythm as he was spinning an online round the West Indies batters. Even after so a few years, Lal doesn’t assume the resolution was foolhardy.

“I tell everybody, it’s only pain yaar. Pain will not kill you. If you have split webbing and you have taken stitches and you say, ‘I can’t bat’… Why can’t you hold the bat? It’s only pain. It’s not going to get worse, it’s not going to get septic, it’s not going to kill you. It’s only pain. What’s the problem? We used to bat without a helmet, and even if we had helmets we never had a grille. Players didn’t get hit very often then.”

Bengal coach Arun Lal at his Central Calcutta residence forward of the Ranji Trophy last. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

There’s no shock {that a} man of his toughness will snide at “too much mollycoddling” of the modern-day cricketers, which has given us phrases like ‘workload management’ and ‘optional practice’. “If you can’t do it here (at the nets), you can’t do it there (out in the middle) also.”

With him as the head coach, this Bengal crew has saved these phrases in abeyance in a by and huge injury-free season.

Father determine

Dr. Anup Sarkar is an excellent specialty gastroenterologist at the PG Hospital in Kolkata. Ashwini is a physician at AIIMS in Delhi. Sanjit is an IT skilled in Sweden. Bikash is now a prime honcho at JSW Steel. The widespread thread is that every one of them had been underprivileged and had been ‘fathered’ and ‘mothered’ by Lal and his spouse Rina.

“Bikash was a part of our family because he lived with us. The others would come and when we would sponsor their education, we made it a point that we paid the fee monthly so that we could meet them at least once a month, we could go for lunch, could buy them gifts and we could spend time together.”

Bikash’s organic father did the laundry at the Lal family. He wished his son to be enrolled at Julien Day college and approached Lal’s spouse, who was Bikash’s English instructor. That began the affiliation.

Ashwini stood 24th at the Joint Entrance examination. Little surprise then that Lal has all the time been fatherly to his wards at the Bengal crew however it’s robust love, which labored.

“I came (to the Bengal fold) mid-season last year. I was mainly observing, trying to understand the psychology of the team and the guys. Not to offend anybody. But this season I decided I would do it my way. I may be wrong. But when I have been entrusted with the job, I’m allowed to make mistakes. There was absolutely no interference from the CAB.”

Lal talks about his strategy of toughening up cricketers to assist them reap the rewards when the going will get troublesome throughout a cricket season.

Bengal coach Arun Lal at his Central Calcutta residence forward of the Ranji Trophy last. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

“I felt we weren’t fit enough. I felt that mentally we weren’t believing in ourselves enough. Belief doesn’t come on its own. I always believe that in my life, when I work hard and when I become stronger and stronger, I get more confidence. My body language improves. I feel stronger and stronger and then my confidence starts coming. So when you run the hard yards, it’s not so much for your physical fitness. It’s more for your mental fitness. It’s like a prayer. One day you aren’t feeling well, you haven’t slept well, but still you do that; one hour running. It adds to your dedication and discipline. I decided we were going to do that. And you can see, the guys who did it for two months really benefited.”

Anustup Majumdar is the greatest instance of what arduous work can do. Until final season, he had simply 50-odd first-class video games over a 15-year interval. He has been a revelation this time period, arguably the greatest batsman in the Ranji Trophy, with back-to-back match-winning lots of in the quarterfinal and the semifinal.

“See, a coach is as good as his team. The material was there. The potential was there for all to see. Last season, jokingly and to annoy him at times, I used to call Ishan Porel an ‘old woman’. Because, his body language was always like stooping. Now he is; bloody hell. When I look at him I feel so proud. Until last season, Mukesh Kumar was bowling dibbly-dobbly medium pace. Now he is bowling unplayable deliveries. He made Karun Nair and Manish Pandey look like novices. Some of the deliveries bowled by Porel, Mukesh and Akash Deep (in the semifinal) were actually unplayable.”

Bird watcher

The CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) as soon as requested Lal to give the keynote speech at a symposium on setting. “I was very frightened. There were scientists from Norway, England and god knows where… I spoke from my personal experience. I signed off by saying, if we want to save the world, we save one sparrow (at a time). I got a standing ovation.”

READ | Bengal in Ranji final, at express pace

A bird-watcher by ardour, Lal labored to save the migratory birds at Santragachi in Howrah. Not one to accumulate birds, he now has orphaned birds – three parrots and three eagles. “The other day I returned an owl who was injured. He was with me for a while and then I returned him to the wild.”

Add to this, the seven-eight canine that he has in his farm. He has planted 4,000 bushes. “My major passion is planting trees. Then cricket.” A monologue on bird-watching might be overdue. When a person of this background walks right into a dressing-room, additionally carrying his diploma in Economics from St. Stephen’s other than his cricket exploits, gamers really feel comfy to place belief in his strategies. That’s precisely what has occurred with the Bengal crew. Someone like Ashok Dinda, who fell out, received the axe. The crew moved on, unearthing the younger Akash Deep as his alternative and in the course of, forming a tempo trio who’ve been operating by means of opposition batting for enjoyable. Not a single 250-plus rating has been registered towards Bengal on this Ranji season but.

Calcuttan at coronary heart

Originally from Kapurthala, Punjab, Lal got here to Kolkata in 1978 after getting a job at a tea firm. Along the manner, he grew to become Mr Bengal, so far as cricket was involved. As a participant, he had to play the ready sport, as a result of India had Sunil Gavaskar. Kris Srikkanth was stepping into the groove as his accomplice. Lal’s two abroad excursions had been towards Imran Khan’s Pakistan in 1982-83 and in the Caribbean in 1989. Rub of the inexperienced didn’t go his manner, a cause why his Test appearances stopped at 16. His crew mates knew that and all the time revered Lal.

Kolkata’s ‘soul’, as he describes it was the cause why he grew to become a everlasting resident of this metropolis. “I had by no means been to Bengal earlier than I received my job. Initially I didn’t fairly prefer it. Then, inside about three-four months, I actually began loving Bengal and Calcutta. See, to me, a metropolis shouldn’t be solely about the roads, lights and cleanliness. A metropolis has to have a soul. It has to have heat. It has to be forgiving.

The individuals have to be loving. That Calcutta stands out even now. In the appreciation and understanding of artwork, tradition and sport; you’ll not get what you get in Calcutta wherever else. Life shouldn’t be solely about creating wealth. Life is way more than that. I’m extra Calcuttan than anyone else.”

Irrespective of the end result of the Ranji Trophy last, and Saurashtra are a splendidly constant crew, this season has been successful for Bengal. A crew that has unquantifiable heroes and a titan in Lal. But at 64 years of age, he may name it quits after the season.

“See, my house at the moment is running in sort of autopilot. My wife is sick, my mother is sick. When Sourav offered me the job, I didn’t know it would be so rigorous. Let’s see what happens (next season).”

This Bengal crew aren’t a completed article but and Lal nonetheless has a way to go earlier than he hangs up his boots. But the journey to date has been fruitful.

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