What promised to be a season of hope for Bengal cricket has turned out otherwise, judging by the performance of the team in the ongoing national championship for the Ranji Trophy.

Three losses, and as many draws, have ensured that it is nearly out of contention for the knockout stage.

Although relegation is not on its mind, any slip-up in the game against Hyderabad and during the next fixture against the Railways could cost the team dear.

Ignominy

Bengal, which won the prestigious Ranji Trophy in the 1989-90 season, came close to holding the trophy thrice, but failed on all the occasions. After losing to Mumbai in 1993-94, Bengal again figured in the summit clash against Mumbai in 2006-07, and Uttar Pradesh in 2007-08, without success.

Bengal had to face the ignominy of getting relegated to the Plate Division from the Elite Division during the following season.

Although it did bounce back to figure in the quarter-finals stage in the 2009-10 season, Bengal has been among the also-rans thereafter.

Inconsistent performance

Bengal’s performance at the national championships has always been inconsistent. Once dubbed as the “Rest of India” side by former Delhi skipper Kirti Azad, Bengal made a conscious effort to fix its game. The State’s current coach, W.V. Raman, is said to have asked the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) to introduce league matches of three or more days’ duration to help top-level players prepare themselves for the rigour of the four-day Ranji format .

But the same two-day league games have produced high-calibre players over the years, helping Bengal do well at the Nationals, CAB officials aver. According to the officials, the current bunch of players is lacking in quality.

Not Lucrative to take it up professioally

For talented local players , studies and a corporate job are more important as professional cricket cannot guarantee them any success.

When the best talent moves over to the corporate world , the rest filter down to playing cricket.

Unless this trend is reversed, Bengal cricket will go into slow decline .

sabanayakan.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 17, 2012)
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