Pakistan's new coach Mickey Arthur has said the opportunity of associating with a subcontinent team was a "massive attraction". Soon after his arrival in Lahore, his first visit to Pakistan after his appointment, Arthur spoke to the media and explained his decision to take up the job by saying, "If you haven't coached in the subcontinent you haven't really coached."
Arthur was appointed last month to fill the role vacated by Waqar Younis, who resigned following the team's early exit from the World T20. This is Arthur's third assignment with an international side - he previously coached South Africa from 2005 to 2010, and Australia from 2011 to 2013.
"(It has) massive attraction," Arthur said. "You just got to look at the passion that the Pakistan public have for cricket. The passion that everybody in the subcontinent has for cricket. For me, I wanted to come and coach in the subcontinent at some stage of my coaching career because if you haven't coached in the subcontinent, you haven't really coached.
"That was a massive attraction, coupled with the fact that we need to improve the rankings in ODI cricket without a doubt, we need to improve the rankings in Twenty20 cricket. We need to become a little bit more consistent. Our Test cricket seems to be very good at the moment. Test cricket is being played in conditions conducive to the subcontinent. If we can play well outside the subcontinent [it] means the team's really going forward and those are all the challenges I'm really looking forward to."
Pakistan are ranked No. 3 in Test cricket but are currently at ninth place on the ODI table and at No. 7 in T20Is. With a long tour of England and Ireland as his first assignment, Arthur urged the team to guard against fear of failure.
"I don't care if they fail, I don't care if they make mistakes. Professional people are going to make mistakes. As long as we're learning from those mistakes and going forward as a team, I'm going to be happy. I don't want us to fear the failure. I think any team that fears failure is a team that struggles. Certainly I don't want us to fear failure at all and we're going to give players the opportunity to get out there and really perform to the best of their ability.
"The strategy is to make them believe in their own abilities, make them believe where we are going to take this team and that belief comes over time, it just doesn't start. I love to see the players dig deep inside and find the extra 10% that's going to make a significant difference to this team going forward and that's what I will try to dwell and try to get out of every player. To make sure that they become better, and if they become better players Pakistan cricket will benefit. That is my primary focus at the moment."
Arthur has a two-year deal with the PCB, which will be reviewed after a year based on the team's performance. With four major series for the side over the next eight months - after the England tour, Pakistan are scheduled to play West Indies, New Zealand and Australia - Arthur has set his sights on identifying players who fit in with the long-term vision of taking the team to No. 1 across formats.
"The short-term plan comes in and creates a culture that I think is necessary for a team to be successful," he said. "With long-term plans I want to get the team to No.1 in all forms of the game, that is without a doubt. We also need to identify long-term players who can be with us for the ride, players who can play all three formats. We need to identify really good allrounders, somebody who can bat in the top six and bowl seam specially when he plays outside subcontinent conditions. Those are all things in my mind as long-term plans."
Arthur had an uneasy tenure as Australia's coach, despite having garnered success with South Africa. He was sacked almost three weeks before the start of the 2013 Ashes in England, after a challenging time with the team which included the infamous Homeworkgate episode on the tour to India earlier that year. Arthur was confident such an incident would not occur again.
"I've got no doubt they'll operate in the right way and Australia did," he said. "Sometimes things work and sometimes things don't. We've had a good record with Australia but there were other issues that we needed to address and they always say there's two types of coaches - there's a coach that's current and there's a coach that's been fired, and if you haven't been fired, you've never coached. So I had a really good five years with South Africa, with Australia we had two very good years and that ended in tears, but that's what happens. I'm confident that in this role we'll get things going in the right direction, it won't happen again."
Arthur's arrival in Pakistan was delayed by a month - due to paperwork issues involved in switching from South African to Australian citizenship - and he missed the preparatory fitness camp for the England tour. He clarified that his inputs were taken before the selection of the team and that he had had fruitful discussion with the selectors and the rest of the coaching staff.
"I had very good and clear communication with the selection panel before this team was selected," he said. "Inzi (Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan's chief selector) and I have built a nice relationship, we spent some time chatting and I know that my opinions will always be taken into account. At the end of the day it's their job to select the best possible team but I know they will do this in consultation with myself and the captain always.
"I've had fruitful discussions with every stakeholder throughout the last month - with Inzi and his selection panel, with Mushi (bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed) in terms of the young players coming through, so I've got a pretty good indication where Pakistan cricket is. I've got a pretty good indication that if we find some players that become long-term, we need to invest in those players, and if we invest in those players and be consistent with our selection, and consistent in the roles that those players have within the team, then, without a doubt, the team will go from strength to strength."
Soon after his appointment, Arthur had stressed the importance of discipline and fitness, and he stated he would manage this on a day-to-day basis to ensure the team's performance was not affected.
"At the end of the day it's up to me to give them a clear role, let them know exactly how they fit in and also to make sure that they bind to the team. All those issues I haven't experienced yet and I will manage them on a day-to-day basis to make sure that they don't impact our performance going forward."