Arun Lal is a former Indian cricketer, who was a right-handed opening batsman and a cricket commentator.
Jagdishlal Arun Lal was born on Monday, 1 August 1955 (age 66 years; as of 2021) in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh. He did his schooling at Mayo College, Ajmer following which he earned a degree in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.
Height (approx.): 5′ 9″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Lal belongs to a family of cricketers. His father, uncle, and cousin had played first-class cricket before him.
His father, Dhir Jagdish Lal, was also an opening batsman, who represented 8 different teams in 16 first-class matches.
Arun Lal was married to Reena, but they parted ways by a mutual decision. Although separated, Arun still lives with his first wife who is ill. Post-separation from his first wife, he was in a relationship with Bulbul Saha. Reportedly, Arun took consent from his first wife and got engaged to Bulbul in 2022.
The newfound couple’s wedding invite also got viral on social media; the wedding took place on 2 May 2022 at the Peerless Inn, Esplanade, Kolkata.
Arun Lal’s uncle Dhir Muni Lal was a right-hand opening batsman who played for Southern Punjab and Northern India in the 1930s. Arun’s cousin Akash Lal was also an opening batsman, who played for Delhi and Punjab in the Indian domestic cricket in the 1960s.
In 1982, he made his ODI debut on 27 January against England at Cuttack. In the same year, he made his Test debut against Sri Lanka at Madras, where he scored 63 runs, and he shared a partnership of 156 runs with Sunil Gavaskar. In his second test appearance, he scored 51 runs against Pakistan and again shared a partnership with Sunil Gavaskar for more than 100 runs; however, he was dropped after he could only manage to score 49 runs in his next four innings. He scored six Test fifties including the one that he scored on his debut against Sri Lanka in 1982 to 1989, scoring 729 runs at an average of 26.03. His highest test score is 93, which he made against West Indies at Calcutta in 1987. He made six Test fifties under his name including one on debut against Sri Lanka in 1982 and two against Pakistan in the same match at Eden Gardens in 1987. He made 13 ODI appearances, and his ODI average stands at 9.36. He played his final test and ODI matches for India on the tour of the West Indies in 1988-89.
At the Indian domestic level, he represented Bengal and Delhi. After trying to prove his mettle in Delhi for 6 years, he decided to move to Bengal. He joined the Bengal cricket team in 1981. His unbeaten half-century in the 1989-90 Ranji Trophy final led Bengal to win its first Ranji Trophy after 51 years in 1989. He also played an instrumental role in East Zone’s victories in the Duleep and the Deodhar Trophy. He played first-class cricket until 1995 and aggregated more than 10,000 runs in 156 first-class matches with a top score of 287 and a batting average of 46.94. He announced his retirement from competitive cricket in 2001. His last club match was for East Bengal. At the time of retirement, he ranked fifth in the list of players with the most career runs in Ranji history, with 6760 runs, averaging 53.23. In an interview, he said that he was forced to quit because of his physical shortcomings. He said,
It may seem strange, but this year, I had problems after playing club matches in the hot and humid summer. That is why I decided to quit after the official end of the season today.”
Even last year during the same period I had scored a hundred. However, I did not feel as drained as I have been feeling this year. The recovery factor is taking too long a time. This has forced me to take the decision to quit.”
He then became the chief coach of the East Zone branch of the National Cricket Academy and the head coach of the Bengal cricket team. In 2017, his former teammate Sourav Ganguly called him. According to Lal, he thought it was a courtesy call from a close friend, but it turned out to be an offer to mentor the State senior team from the then Cricket Association of Bengal’s president.
His methods of rigorous training of the young lads of Bengal were criticized in the beginning; however, under his guidance, Bengal reached the finals of India’s premier domestic competition, Ranji Trophy, in 2020 after a massive gap of 13 years. Speaking about his guidance for the Bengal players in an interview, he said,
Team is paramount and everything else is secondary. First you bring your team spirit and then comes your skill, talent, mental ability everything.”
In an interview, upon being asked about his journey from Ranji winning team to a manager of Ranji finalist team, he replied,
I can not tell you how emotional this journey is for me. I am like a father now. If a son does well it is even happier for the father than what he personally did. So, it will be much bigger achievement for me if this team can win the Ranji Trophy compared to my win as a player. I value this journey of mine much more than my journey that season as a player.”
According to Arun, the international players must continue to play domestic cricket as well. In an interview, he stated,
The most important tournament in this country is Ranji Trophy and not IPL”
Arun Lal did commentary after he retired from cricket. He also writes columns on cricket.
- Lal chose a strict approach to bring discipline to the Bengal team under his coaching. He trained the players under all the circumstances including the scorching heat of the summers and the rains. His rigorous approach was heavily criticized, and some media houses questioned whether the Bengal cricketers would be competing in the Olympics. In an interview, Arun defended his way of coaching and said,
When I made these boys run for 25 rounds, there was a lot of criticism.”
- After the Covid-19 outbreak, the BCCI’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for state associations barred 60-plus individuals from taking part in the training camp owing to their vulnerability to getting infected by the virus. Lal took a firm stand against the SOP and cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s example as to how he at his age is running the country. In an interview, he said,
The Prime Minister is 69 and he’s running the country in these times. Are they telling him to step down?”
Me as a person, whether I coach Bengal or not is immaterial but I will live my life. Don’t expect me that I’m 65 years old, so I will lock myself in a room for the next 30 years. This does not happen like this,”
Arun Lal was conferred with the Lifetime Achievement award by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) on 3 August 2019.
In January 2016, Lal was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, which is a type of jaw cancer. He underwent intensive treatment, including a 14-hour surgery and replacement of his jaw. In an interview, he briefly explained his experience and said,
It took me a year to get out of it because my entire jaw had to be recreated otherwise I wouldn’t have had a face. From my leg, they cut out one of the bones (fibula) and they literally made a new jaw. I was on crutches because of the (cut in the) leg and I couldn’t move my right arm because of all the nerves that had been cut through my neck. It was a harrowing experience”
He recovered from cancer successfully. In an interview, upon being asked about his battle with cancer and how it changed his perspective of life, he said,
Everyday is a learning for human being. You are not the same person today compared to yesterday. When this kind of thing happens you definitely go through changes. You have to go through an ordeal, you are stronger now, you see life differently. I think I am much stronger both mentally and physically. I am very content with myself and as long as God is with me, I have no complaint.”
- Commentators: Ian Chappell, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Manjrekar, Rameez Raja, and Tony Greig
- Fast Bowler: Imran Khan
- Arun Lal is also known as Piggy by his close friends.
- In 1979, he moved to Calcutta from Delhi and started the Bournvita Cricket Academy, which is one of the top cricket coaching academies in Kolkata.
- He represented Bengal in the Doordarshan national integration song “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara”.
- He has been an ardent promoter of wildlife conservation over the years.
- Arun Lal is a bird-watcher and has worked to save the migratory birds at Santragachi in Howrah.
- In an interview, he mentioned that he has planted more than 4,000 trees. He said,
My major passion is planting trees. Then cricket.”
- Reportedly, Arun Lal supported various underprivileged children by financing their education and becoming a father figure to them. Those children grew up to become successful individuals. Bikash, who was a washerman’s son, is now the head of treasury at JSW Steel, Dr. Anup Sarkar is a super speciality gastroenterologist at the PG Hospital in Kolkata, Ashwini is a doctor at AIIMS in Delhi, and Sanjit is an IT professional in Sweden.
- Reportedly, Arun played a crucial role in convincing the selectors to select Ganguly for the Ranji final in 1990. In an interview, Lal revealed,
I had watched Sourav grow from the very beginning. I backed him from his early days. In fact, I was among the ones who had pushed for his inclusion in the final when the selectors were sceptical about picking him.”