Bengal coach Arun Lal will not be able to take part in pre-season training camp after BCCI Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) barred support staff and officials aged 60 or above to attend the sessions till further government notice.

The SOPs have been prepared in wake of the coronavirus pandemic to ensure the training camps and matches are conducted in a safe environment.

Lal cited the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who despite the coronavirus threat, continues to run the country. “The Prime Minister is 69 and he’s running the country in these times. Are they telling him to step down?” the Bengal coach told news agency PTI.

“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,” Lal, who successfully underwent treatment for cancer, added.

Lal said he will follow all the social distancing norms but just because he’s above 60 doesn’t mean he will be quarantining himself. “I will take precautions like everybody else — social distancing, hand washing, sanitising, mask-wearing all that I will do. Unnecessarily, there will be no foolhardiness. But I will not quarantine myself just because I’m 60-plus. Virus does not know the difference between 59 and 60,” he said.

Lal was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare type of salivary glands cancer four years back.

After a successful treatment, he returned to coach Bengal and guided them to the Ranji Trophy final last season, their first in 13 years.

“I’m very fit and strong. In fact I’ve never been this fitter in my life. I’m not at all worried,” Lal said. “I know the whole concern is about people above-60. I understand that. But I think things will work out. A couple of months down the line, the virus will start subsiding. Much before any vaccine or anything.”

He also rejected any rumours of him being removed from the post and the health advisory is in no way reflection on his abilities.

“Certainly, I’m continuing. I’ve got no news from any quarters that you know I’m not continuing,” he said. “An advisory can change, in fact it itself says it can change and it’s temporary. Situation is so fluid and uncertain, nobody knows about tomorrow. We will wait and see how it pans out. It also discourages and there’s no binding on it.”

“They are trying to look after me only. It’s not any reflection on my abilities. We will see how it goes,” he added.

As far as preparations for the upcoming domestic season goes, Lal said the players are working hard and pumped up.

“The CAB will have to decide taking into all the consideration with State and Union government. They are working very hard and are really pumped up. My job to keep them motivated and wait for their time,” he said.