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We deserve this, feels chief selector

Calcutta: The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has turned to the English Premier League in their search for an answer to the team’s relegation from the Ranji Trophy Super League.

“You should notice that teams like Manchester United and Chelsea also have had problems in the past, but they have come back strongly in the league. I firmly believe Bengal will show the same degree of determination and character to return to the Super League,” CAB joint secretary Amitava Banerjee said after Bengal lost to Andhra Pradesh by 101 runs at the Eden on Thursday.

The official’s comment was aimed at countering a query whether a reshuffle in the team, including the change of captain Laxmi Ratan Shukla and coach Bharat Arun, was on the cards following the debacle.

“A change in guard, be it coach or captain, is not a solution. You have to trust your players,” Banerjee said. “We’ll form a committee to review our performance… we have to discuss it with the officials and team management as well. Let’s see how we can go about our future plans,” he added.

All sorts of excuses is likely to now surround the officials’ inability to keep former coach Paras Mhambrey, the ICL setback, Shukla’s failure to lead from the front as well as the dressing room politics.

Chief selector Arup Bhattacharya was honest in admitting that the current bunch didn’t deserve to play in the elite category. “Our batting has failed miserably in one match after another. These batsmen don’t deserve to play in the Super League,” he said.

Is there any solution now? “Don’t see any, to be honest,” replied the former Bengal allrounder.

“The tragedy is that we don’t have enough local talent to play in the top tier. We should immediately stop the 95 points format. Since matches in this format are played in small grounds, heavy scores by the players make us live in a fool’s world. We should also change the local league into a three-day affair,” Bhattacharya said.

He also didn’t rule out the possibility of hiring players from outside when Bengal will play in the Plate Division. “Let us sit together with the players and officials and we’ll definitely come out with something for the betterment of Bengal cricket… May be we need to get some players from other states,” he said, adding that he would not step down.

Both Arun and Shukla attributed the failure to their batting. The coach even hinted that some of the batsmen didn’t carry out his instructions in the match. “There was a complete lack of mental toughness from the batsmen,” Arun said.

Shukla ruled out the possibility of any sabotage against him, though divided opinion on selecting the teams remained an open secret.

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