Former Bengal captain and sports minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla began a new innings as Under-23 coach with a fitness camp on Monday and put in place some strict rules for his wards that included “staying away from social media and cutting long hair”.
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.
Shukla was later made the Howrah district president of TMC but just before the last Assembly Polls he stepped down from the post and quit politics to “concentrate more on cricket” as he returned as Bengal U-23 coach.
“I have told the boys not to post anything on social media. They have to maintain decorum and discipline,” the 40-year-old said after taking charge.
The fitness camp, which lasted for over four hours, had 60 cricketers, who were divided into groups and came in batches for their training.
“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 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.”
Shukla, who played three ODIs for India, said his job is to ensure that more Bengal players make it to 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,” he said.
“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.”
Asked if there was any process for success, he said: “Even when I used to play I never believed in the process much. I have seen Sourav Ganguly play and never felt like he had any kind of fixed process.”
Bowling coach Shib Shankar Paul and strength and conditioning coach Sabir Ali also made sure that everything went smoothly.
Chairman of senior selectors Subhomoy Das also visited the camp.