Laxmi Ratan Shukla is a former Indian cricketer and a politician, who played as an all-rounder for the Bengal cricket team and various IPL franchises. He was also a member of the legislative assembly of West Bengal representing the All India Trinamool Congress. He resigned from the ministry on 5 January 2021.
Early Life and Cricket Career
Shukla was born in Howrah, West Bengal, on 6 May 1981, and did his schooling at Shree Hanuman Jute Mill Hindi High School and the Don Bosco High & Technical School, Liluah. He started playing cricket at a young age and made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bengal in the 1997-98 season against Maharashtra. He caught the attention of the selectors with his impressive performances in domestic cricket and the under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 1998 . He also scored a match-winning century as an opener for Bengal in the Wills Trophy semi-final against Delhi in 1999.
He made his ODI debut for India against Sri Lanka at Nagpur on 22 March 1999, at the age of 17. However, he played only two more ODIs after that, against Sri Lanka and West Indies, and did not get a chance to bat or bowl much. He was dropped from the national team as other young pace bowlers like Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra emerged and established their places in the Indian team. He also faced competition from other all-rounders like Sanjay Bangar, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Irfan Pathan.
Shukla continued to play for Bengal in domestic cricket and became one of their most consistent performers. He scored over 6000 runs and took over 170 wickets in first-class cricket, with a highest score of 250 and a best bowling of 6/86 . He also captained Bengal for several seasons and led them to their first Vijay Hazare Trophy title in 2012. He was by far the brightest performer in that tournament, scoring 151* off 96 balls against Jharkhand and taking four wickets against Tripura.
He also played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for various teams, such as Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad. He was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders team that won the IPL title in 2012 and 2014. He was known for his hard-hitting batting and economical bowling in the T20 format. He scored over 900 runs and took over 40 wickets in T20 cricket, with a highest score of 76 and a best bowling of 3/6.
He announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on 30 December 2015, at the age of 34.
Shukla joined politics in 2016, when he contested the West Bengal assembly elections from Howrah North constituency on a Trinamool Congress ticket. He won the seat by defeating his nearest rival Santosh Kumar Pathak of the Congress by over 26000 votes. He was appointed as the Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
He held the portfolio for over four years, during which he initiated several schemes and projects for the development of sports infrastructure and promotion of sports talent in the state. He also supported various social causes and welfare activities in his constituency. He was popular among his constituents for his humble and accessible nature.
However, he resigned from his ministerial post on 5 January 2021, citing personal reasons. He also expressed his desire to quit politics altogether. He said that he wanted to spend more time with his family and focus on other interests. He thanked Mamata Banerjee for giving him the opportunity to serve the people and said that he would always remain loyal to her.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla is widely regarded as one of the finest all-rounders produced by Bengal cricket. He is also one of the few cricketers who successfully made a transition from sports to politics. He is admired by many for his dedication, passion and humility. He has inspired many young cricketers and sportspersons to pursue their dreams with determination and hard work.