Debu Mitra had been one of the most senior and highly respected cricket coaches in India. The veteran 70 year old born in Kanpur ,but based in Kolkata has had a long coaching career after having a brief stint as a Ranji cricketer for Bengal in early 1970s. He had spend decades in England as a coach. He was the manager of the victorious Bengal Ranji Trophy team in 1989-90 season when Arun Lal was the Bengal captain.
Debu da ,as he is affectionately called in Kolkata, shaped the technique and strokeplay of one of the most promising cricketers from Bengal during that cricketer’s childhood days. The father of that cricketer put him under Mr Mitra’s coaching during 1980s and that raw talent shaped up into one of the most elegant batsman and finest cover drivers that game has ever seen under Debu Mitra’s supervision. The youngster went on to to become India’s greatest left hander and a very successful captain. His name , Sourav Ganguly.
Yes, those signature cover drives of Sourav Ganguly was perfected under Debu Mitra’s supervision when Sourav was in his teens. Devang Gandhi , another test player from Bengal also was coached by him.
While Mr Mitra was spending his time coaching in England, the head of cricket of Saurashtra in the late 1990s Mr Niranjan Shah, earlier holder of many posts in Bcci, approached Mr Mitra to take charge of Saurashtra Ranji team. After initial decline, Mr Mitra finally agreed to take up the coaching of Saurashtra team and made massive structural changes by replacing limited overs tournament with 3 day competition and started encouraging players to play in matches outside the state. The changes started paying immediate dividends as the state moved from plate division to elite division in 2005-06 season and reached semi finals in 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons Ranji Trophy. Finally in 2013 Saurashtra played their 1st Ranji final and ended as runners up.
During his Saurashtra tenure ,Mr Mitra had the opportunity to coach three promising youngsters, Cheteswar Pujara ,Jaidev Unadkat and Ravindra Jadeja. All the above 3 raw talents had a great opportunity to enhance their skills under Debu Mitra’s guidance and all of them went on to represent India ,with Pujara and Jadeja currently having highly successful careers. Pujara after initially being coached by his late father, raised his game to next level with Debu Mitra’s guidance and advice and is still in touch with the old man.
In past interactions with media Mr Mitra revealed ,the raw talent of Ravindra Jadeja, and how Jadeja felt dissappointed at not having being selected for World cup 2011 which made him almost lose interest in his bowling. However Mr Mitra convinced him to keep working on the same as he had a great potential to be a front line spinner in the country. Jadeja to his credit listened to his advice and the rest is history.
Thus Mr Mitra with his massive experience in coaching for decades, has a great eye for understanding future talent , no wonder Indian cricket benefitted and is still benefitting from the talents of Sourav Ganguly, Cheteswar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja all of whom were products of Debu Mitra’s coaching.
Currently the veteran is still involved in coaching assignments in Kolkata (involved with Police Athetic club). Hope CAB keeps utilising him to train young talent in the state .
Always a person who keeps himself in the background and never one to take credit, BCCI should takes steps to compensate individuals like Debu Mitra adequately , who have been doing great service to Indian cricket for ages by keeping themselves away from public focus.