Former India and Bengal all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla has taken up the mantle of the state’s U23 team and has begun by setting some strict ground rules for his wards to follow.
A domestic cricket stalwart for Bengal, Shukla had joined Trinamool Congress in 2016 and was a minister of state, youth affairs, and sports until January this year. Despite being made the Howrah district president of TMC, Shukla stepped down from the post to become the Bengal U23 coach and quit politics to "concentrate more on cricket".
Some of the rules made by Shukla include no long hair, pupils must know or learn Bengali and have to give up social media or not post anything on the platforms. The fitness camp, which lasted for over four hours, had 60 cricketers, who were divided into groups and came in batches for their training.
"I have told the boys not to post anything on social media. They have to maintain decorum and discipline. Those with long hair will need to pay a visit to the saloons immediately. Thirdly they will have to learn Bengali for team bonding," Shukla said.
"The supply line from junior to the senior team is very important and that's why I have chosen to work with the junior cricketers. I want to see more cricketers coming up from the districts for both boys and girls. CAB is very serious about the district games as well as the club games and the association is doing everything they can for the progress,” he further said.
Shukla who appeared in three ODIs for India in 1999, said he aims to produce capable players from Bengal and wants more state players representing the national team.
"Now we have to recognize the talents from the districts, keep our eyes open for young talents from every corner of the state. I will make sure during the sessions that the players are putting in efforts, the result will follow. I am not a coach, I am a guide who is here to help the players. To see more Bengal players in the national team is a wish I have as a cricketer,” he added.
He further said that he wasn’t a fan of a fixed process and cited the example of former India captain Sourav Ganguly and said that he has seen him play and even the current BCCI President didn’t have any kind of fixed process.