Pakistan have been playing ‘conservative’ cricket, says Arthur

Mickey Arthur
Mickey Arthur addresses the media in Lahore. — AFP

LAHORE: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said newly appointed ODI captain Sarfraz Ahmed will bring more aggression to the team which has recently struggled in the format for the past two years.

Arthur said Pakistan had been playing “a very conservative type” of 50-over cricket. He said this didn’t work “when other teams are scoring 320-340 runs.”

“We needed to go in a direction that Safi (Sarfraz) enjoys playing,” Arthur said while addressing the media in Lahore.

Pakistan is ranked 8th in the ICC ODI rankings and can’t afford to slip any further by the global cricketing body’s September 30 deadline or it will have to feature in the qualifying rounds of the 2019 World Cup.

Azhar Ali quit the ODI captaincy after Pakistan lost a series in Australia 4-1 earlier this year.

The PCB replaced him with Sarfraz, an attacking wicketkeeper-batsman.

Sarfraz, who already leads Pakistan in T20s, will make his ODI debut as captain when Pakistan takes on the West Indies in an ODI series next month.

The first of four T20s is on March 26. Guyana hosts all three ODIs, starting April 7. The three-Test series begins April 22 with Misbah-ul-Haq retained as Pakistan captain.

Arthur took up Pakistan’s coaching position last year. Since then Pakistan has beaten the West Indies in the limited-overs series in the UAE while losing to England and Australia.
Arthur said that he is focused to guide players into involving their fitness.

“This is what we are striving for,” he said.

“It actually starts at the training ground, starts around the attitude toward fitness (and) once you get those, it’s easier to get the package in terms of the match.”

Pakistan selectors have picked emerging players like all-rounder Shadab Khan and spinner Usama Mir, both impressing in the recently concluded Pakistan Super League season.

All players will take a fitness Test before selectors finalize the squad. Arthur said “significant progress” had been made “but we’re still not where rest of the world is and that’s something that we need to continue (to) work all the time.”

Arthur was confident that Pakistan will face home-like conditions in the Caribbean.

“Our three ODIs are in Guyana where conditions are going to be pretty similar to what we face at home (in the UAE) so that’s good for us,” he said.

“Spin will certainly play a role and we’ve certainly got the players to fit the game plan.”