New Delhi, Jan 13: Former Pakistan team director Mickey Arthur said playing against India for his team in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup in Ahmedabad was extremely tough, especially in the absence of no crowd support for the visitors.
In the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, Pakistan finished at fifth place and failed to make it to the semi-finals, following which Arthur moved on from his role, and was replaced by former all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez.
“It was very interesting, and the one thing that was forgotten with all the rhetoric, was that our whole team had never played in India before, so every venue they went to was a new experience.”
“We certainly wanted to remove that from their mindset, just for them to focus and play to their optimum – because ultimately, it’s a contest between bat and ball. We tried to take the ground and the conditions out of the equation too, and prepared the best we could for the event at hand.”
“It was extremely tough not having any Pakistan support, because the one thing that really drives the Pakistan team is the incredible and unbelievable support they receive at grounds and hotels. You go around the world and you see the ‘Sea of green’, it’s truly amazing! Here we never had that, and that was quite tough in a World Cup, particularly for the players.”
“As you can imagine it was a tough hostile environment in Ahmedabad, but we were expecting this, and to their credit our players never moaned or complained once, they cracked on and tried their best – nevertheless it ultimately does play a role in motivation when you can’t see or hear that support base around you,” Arthur was quoted as saying by ‘Wisden’.
Pakistan also had to deal with outside noise coming off the field, including about leaked Whatsapp chats of then-skipper Babar Azam, as well as chatter over divide in the team dressing room. Arthur denied about any discourse in the team during its World Cup campaign.
“The outside noise with Pakistan is incredible, you just have to check your Twitter feed to see so many fires that are ignited out there, that have absolutely no truth attached to them. You end up – and I found this out the first time – you’re just constantly extinguishing those fires and chasing your tail.”
“What we knew within our team was our game plan, and the defined roles that the players had, and we cracked on with it. There were unequivocally no massive disagreements with the players – in high-performance teams there will always be one or two differences in terms of what happens on the field, I personally think that is very healthy.”
“Once you have players challenging each other, and more so great players, which Pakistan have, it then creates a good healthy environment, as long as it never becomes personal, which it never did. A lot of the noise was created by what was going on outside by the chairmanship and media. That was the issue, in the team we were calm and very focused on the job at hand.”
Arthur, who coached Pakistan to 2017 Champions Trophy triumph in England, signed off by saying the cricketing structure in the country needs to be sorted in every aspect, otherwise they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot.
“How long have you got? I continually witness Pakistan cricket nailing itself in the foot. The talent is there, what it needs is a good structure, good leadership, as well as continuity and sustainability, along with proper direction. Through 2016-2019, and thanks to Najam, we had the players trusting the process.”
“So, when I’d sit down with Inzi (former chief selector Inzamam Ul Haq) with whom I have a brilliant working relationship, and selected a team and then communicated this with the team, they knew there was a sustainable structure there, because me and Inzi were providing a form of continuity.”
“I can then say to a player, take Fakhar for an example, that you’re going to play the next ten ODIs. We know he will win us games, it’s high risk at times, but at least this way the players start trusting the structure and believing in the selection process, and play for the team.”
“If it’s constant change and instability, players go into self-protection mode, and they end up playing for themselves, just thinking about the next tour. It’s frustrating to witness that because players aren’t given a proper chance, there’s no honest communication and they know things are always going to change.”
“Domestically there’s so much talent out there. As I mentioned earlier, we put together a high-performance structure which we were going to implement, but this got lost in the wash with the change of chairmanship. Again very disappointing. I still think Pakistan cricket shoots itself in the foot and could be better.”