Pakistan news April 12, 2017

'Pakistan need to embrace modern cricket' - Arthur

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Mickey Arthur hopes that his legacy will be that of establishing a thoroughly professional structure in Pakistan cricket © AFP

That Pakistan cricket has faced a unique set of challenges over the past decade or so is not in dispute, and Mickey Arthur believes its effects on the international team were obvious when he walked into the role one year ago. Speaking nearly 12 months on from his appointment as head coach of the Pakistan national side, Arthur said that Pakistan had been playing cricket "that belonged in the 20th century".

"This isn't just dressing room speak," Arthur said. "I've told the players that we were playing cricket that belonged in the 20th century. We hadn't embraced the new modern game yet, and that was for a number of reasons, like not playing at home, or [not] having the exposure to the IPL that the rest of the world has had. So there were a lot of mitigating factors, but the fact is, if we've got to compete with them, we have to start embracing the modern trend."

One aspect of the modern game that remains absent in Pakistan cricket is the presence of power hitters. Their scarcity has been noticeable in the Pakistan side, both at the top and tail of the innings, with Pakistan's ODI run rate in the first and last Powerplay the lowest of all Full Members, save Zimbabwe. Arthur acknowledged it was not something that could be coached into players overnight, and such players needed to be developed and groomed over time.

"It [lack of power hitters] is a worry. When we get on good wickets, we can't match the other countries. In Australia, I felt we always started 20-30 runs behind them because they could maximise the last ten overs. Teams are getting 100 runs in the last ten overs now. We're getting 70, at best. We didn't get a run-a-ball in the last five overs the other day in a T20 [against West Indies]. That's not good enough; that's not going to win us games. We don't have the ability to take on the power players, which is so disappointing, because we did with Sharjeel [Khan], so to lose him is a massive blow.

"But along those lines, those are things we have to get better at, and it's not going to happen overnight. You're not going to wake up one morning and become a power hitter. We're training it; we've got drills and techniques that we're putting into play. Hopefully, all that comes to fruition, because we've got two years till the World Cup, and in the World Cup, we've got to be as good as we can possibly be."

Mickey Arthur said losing a power hitting like Sharjeel Khan was a 'massive blow' © Associated Press

Arthur also talked about the cultural challenges of managing an Asian team for the first time, saying he was fully prepared to embrace the culture around Pakistan's cricket. He clarified, however, that accepting the culture was not tantamount to tolerating mediocrity, and that he didn't believe his role as coach could be boiled down to a win-loss ratio, stressing that his main priority was setting up a professional structure in Pakistan's cricket, with fitness at the core of their preparation.

"Comfort zones are not tolerated within our environment anymore. We've tried to push the players, we tried to challenge the players, take them to limits they haven't been before in terms of fitness and preparation.

"I like to think that when people look at what happened for the last one year, they look at structure. You are always going to be judged as coach on win-loss ratio but for me it's a lot more than that. It's about the environment, it's about the standards and it's about challenging players. It's about not tolerating mediocrity and that's the stuff I would love to leave behind so the next coach that came in would come into a structure that functions. Players know what standards are and live up to those standards. Otherwise I'm wasting my time. Hopefully that's going to be my legacy - a thoroughly professional structure."

With Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan having announced that the Test series in the West Indies will be their last, Pakistan look set for a period of transition without two of their stalwarts. While that might be intimidating for some, Arthur said he was excited by the opportunity of managing a new team, pointing to his time with the South African national side, where he oversaw a young team emerge as a unit that is presently ranked No. 2 and No. 1 in Tests and ODIs.

"That's what you live for as a coach. I've been lucky in my team with South Africa, where we inherited a team with a couple of senior players, and we put in players like [AB] de Villiers, [Morne] Morkel, [JP] Duminy, [Dale] Steyn. To see them grow and get better is the most fulfilling thing that can happen for you as a coach. I'm hoping the same happens with this Pakistan team, and I'm incredibly excited about the future."

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nasirk3548245 on April 15, 2017, 11:35 GMT

    Pakistan must come up with a strong combination. I can tell everyone now Ahmed Shehzad will be a big disappointment in champions trophy. Try Fakhar Zaman or Imad Wasim to open the innings instead and take advantage of power play. Down the late order save Hafeez , Shadab, Sarfraz and Amir to do the slogging. So my line up for champions trophy would be :

    K Akmal Fakhar Zaman Babar Azam Shoaib Malik Sarfraz Hafeez Imad Shadab Aamir Hasan Ali Junaid Khan

    Hafeez should be the Pivot in the latev order. All the best Pakistan in champions trophy.

  • aasifg9987291 on April 15, 2017, 10:50 GMT

    Pakistan has plenty of talent but should be used properly. want to see these players in t20; 1. Sharjeel Khan 2. Fakhar Zaman 3. Babar Azam 4. Sarfaraz Ahmad 5. Sohaib Maqsood. 6. Saad Ali 7. Hussain Talat 8. Shadab Khan 9. Mohammad Amir 10. Hasan Ali 11. Usman Khan 12. khushdil Shah 13. Umar Akmal 14. Hasan Khan 15. Ruman Raees 16. Fahim Ashraf.

  • Aatif on April 15, 2017, 0:29 GMT

    Pakistan had hitters since before the term "power play" was introduced. Remember partnerships between Moin Khan, Wasim Akram, Abdur Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood, Shoaib Malik who used to score 100+ in last 10 overs... Then came tuk-tuk whose 50 with same strike rate (around 50) used to leave the team chasing run rate 12+.

  • asad on April 14, 2017, 22:58 GMT

    For Pakistan to become more of a modern day team they don't really need to make wholesale changes. If they have a middle order of 3. Babar Azam, 4. Sarfraz Ahmed, 5. Shoaib Malik. These guys just need to focus on rotating strike better & picking gaps, then going on to smash the ball when its time. Sarfraz should play at 4 since he's not a good enough big hitter to play at the crucial no.6 postion. Then in opening they should try guys like Fakhar, Mukhtar etc.. Ideally in this era of cricket both openers need to get going from ball one. They can even try Umar Akmal as opener as he's good against pace & doesn't waste time. Plus he wants to bat up the order anyways. Then in all rounder/ finisher role they need to get Imad, Shadab, Sohail, Anwar, Amir etc.. to improve their big hitting ability but also not forget to their bowling ability (Sohaib Maqsood can also be tried @ 6 & play Miller/Buttler type role) . With a team like that I think we can get 300+ far more regularly than we do.

  • asad on April 14, 2017, 22:36 GMT

    In terms of hitters we had Sharjeel opening not to long ago & Anwar was playing @ 7 or so last year in ODIs & T20s. These guys could really hit but aren't consistent. Now Sharjeel is most likely finished while Anwar's bowling ability is not nearly enough to allow him to stay in the team (he's a bowling all rounder after all). We have a like-for-like replacement for Sharjeel in Fakhar who's a bit slower than Sharjeel but has a better average, bowls left arm spin & is more fit than Sharjeel. He should be in the team to get the innings off to a flyer. Then for Anwar to get back in the team & finish off the innings, he'd need to improve his batting or bowling. He can be a specialist big hitter in the team like Miller if he improves his batting. But the big thing Pakistan need to do is to rotate strike & pick gaps better as it takes an extremely flat pitch & really aggressive batting for us to get to 300 while other teams seem to get 300 on tougher wickets easily just cuz of strike rotation

  • Rizwan on April 14, 2017, 22:12 GMT

    Dear Mickey, while what you're saying makes complete sense, you should avoid giving constructive feedback to your players in a public interview in the middle of a series! The best coaches do their work in the background and let the players tell the world how good their coaches are through their words and performances.

  •   Ali Imran Shah on April 14, 2017, 19:14 GMT

    Well in my opinion these are the main reasons why Pakistan is so behind in white ball cricket. 1. Lack of tape ball cricket. Now a days the table ball cricket is only 10% of what used to be in 1990s, hence we are not getting quick bowlers who can bowl to 150 kph consistently 2. Wicket in our first class. The wickets in our first class have tons of grass and ball keeps moving viciously throughout the full four day match. The bowlers don't learn as they only need to pitch it in the right areas and ball moves both ways, so another big reasons we are not getting fast bowlers who are skilful enough for the international cricket. Due to these wickets batsmen don't learn how to play long match winning innings as they are always on their tows and always in survival of seaming balls. 3. Lack of white ball cricket. In Pakistan there are two major white ball cricket tournaments each year and unfortunately PCB organises them in one or two grounds making bowling friendly conditions. 4. Misbah's Era

  • Asif on April 14, 2017, 18:39 GMT

    Mickey, we are not short of power hitters. You keep picking same tried and tested failures. You need to work harder and put events and invite young guns and you will find plenty. You want it easy work, this takes some planning and searching which takes time.

  • Ahmed on April 14, 2017, 14:53 GMT

    In the 1990's and early 2000, Pak was the only team in almost all ODI if batter first, used to score 100 runs in the last 10 overs. I have never seen any ODI in which by batting first, they havent score 100 in last 10 overs in those days.

    They had 5 fabulous power hitters who used to play the last 10 overs and they were Razzak, Mohammed Yusuf, Moin Khan, Azar Mahmood and Wasim Akram. These 5 in the last 10 overs used to create devastation against any country.

    Gone are those days, it remained as only beautiful memories. Irrespective of me not a Pakistani but I really loved their cricketers and cricket of past era.

  • molab14586992 on April 14, 2017, 10:13 GMT

    I had seen sharjeels game change since windies series and he was looking like a serious prospect in all formats

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