ISLAMABAD: The newly-appointed Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur will need to come up with innovative, new ideas to gel the team together and make it a force to reckon with in international cricket.
He will have to lift the players from the morale-sagging effects of recent disappointments and achieve successes in international arena —in all three versions of the game.
Mickey is by no means the maiden foreign-born coach appointed to raise the fortunes of Pakistan cricket team but will have to tread carefully on the treacherous track—a sobriquet the team has earned for itself over the years.
Before him, foreign coaches like England-born South African Bob Woolmer, Rich Pybus, also from South Africa, and Australians Geoff Lawson and Dave Whatmore, have tried their luck with the team, without developing the team into a world-beating outfit.
Woolmer coached the team to a 4-2 victory in the six match ODI series and drawing 1-1 the Test series on a successful tour of India in March-April 2005.
He assumed the charge in the middle of 2004 and was perhaps foreseeing a sterling performance from the players in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.
Contrary to Woolmer’s expectations, Pakistan made an unceremonious exit from the World Cup 2007, failing to advance to the Super-8 stage after losing to such lowly, non-Test playing teams like Ireland in the preliminary round.
Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room, a few hours after Pakistan bowed out of the tournament.
Unlike him, other foreign coaches of Pakistan showed perhaps more steely resolve, leaving rather than meeting a tragic end.”Pakistani players don’t put in enough hard work”, said Lawson.
“They, perhaps, lack the spirit to achieve something loftier when playing for the country”, said Whatmore who completed a two-year tenure in 2014 with a fantastic Test victory over Sri Lanka.
Otherwise, Whatmore’s coaching stint with Pakistan had nothing to brag about.
The immediate Test of Mickey Arthur will come when Pakistan tour England in July after a six year hiatus.
The tour contains four Tests, five ODIs and a lone T20.
Most Pakistani players are engaged in league or county cricket in England and may hold their own on the tour due to their experience of English conditions.
However, his tougher assignments will come when Pakistan tour Australia or figure in 2017 Champions Trophy or 2019 ODI World Cup in England.
He will need to focus attention on discipline and fitness of players–the two aspects of the team rued by Waqar Younis who was the coach when Pakistan put up dismal performances in Asia T20 in Bangladesh and World T20 in India earlier this year.
It may also be remembered that Mickey Arthur was the coach of Australia during the Ashes tour of England in 2013 before he was sacked in the middle of that rubber and replaced by Darren Lehmann.
Ignoring that chapter of his CV, it may be added that Mickey is a highly qualified coach and is fully capable of delivering as the chief coach, living up to expectations of Pakistan Cricket Board and cricket-crazy fans of the team.
He will help write a glorious chapter in Pakistan cricket history by taking the team to no.1 Test ranking from the current rather-rollicking no.3 Test ranking, should the team win in England.
However, Pakistan have slipped to a rather depressing no.9 position in ICC ODI rankings, just behind Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland, and improving that ranking will be a yeoman ‘s effort for the just-appointed chief coach who was selected from among the 5-6 foreign-born coaches who applied for the job.
Pakistan’s ranking in Twenty20s is no better than ODIs as they languish at no. 7 in ICC rankings. -APP