JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur has said that he extremely disappointed with team’s performance.
“It obviously is [a reality check],” he said. “I am extremely disappointed. We’ve had our moments and we did not take them. Having said that, South Africa were outstanding. Their bowling kept coming at us and one thing I know that was going to be tested was our young batting group. There are a lot of positives in that department.
“I think Babar Azam was amazing and he has taken his cricket to another level. Question marks have always been there surrounding Babar about his Test cricket. I think they will certainly disappear now. He will only go strength to strength from here now. I think Shan Masood played exceptionally well. Asad Shafiq played two innings and that was significant for us. Others chipped in from time to time. But we did not get enough runs.”
“Leave the coaches alone. The amount of work that Grant Flower puts in with these batsmen, it would be harsh,” said Arthur. “Certainly, the batsmen need to analyse their batting technique. There’s a reason why no subcontinent team has never won in S Africa. Simply because the Asian guys here stay leg side of the ball which sees them get out to short-pitched balls. They need to be at the off side of the ball. We have got to develop a game-plan around those batting techniques. To a certain extent, we scored. But, there’s a lot of work that has to be done.”
Pakistan’s next Test assignment is in September against Sri Lanka, to whom they lost 2-0 in 2017 in the UAE. It will also mark the commencement of the Test Championship for the Asian nation. It provides good seven months for Pakistan to sort their Test set-up, especially after how they stumbled in South Africa. “We have got pretty high standards as a Pakistan cricket team. And we hate losing. 3-0 down doesn’t sit well with me and I know it doesn’t sit well down with the dressing room,” said Arthur. “I can never fault the attitude and work ethic that the squad has put in. They have worked hard on their skills. Our next Test series is in September which marks the beginning of Test Championship. We have a lot of time now to see and evaluate who fits in. The aim is to build a side that can win all around the world.”
That Arthur talked about the aforementioned “high standards” in a response to a question regarding Azhar Ali made perfect sense and spoke volumes about the veteran batsman’s position in the team in the aftermath of his show in South Africa. Azhar managed only 59 runs across six innings with two ducks on this tour, which saw him falling prey to Duanne Olivier’s short ball four times. It also meant that his poor batting form, stretching from Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq’s retirements, continued.
“I reiterate Azhar Ali is a quality player. He will go through these form lapses, I guess. On wicket that bounce we need to do a little bit of technical work. There was a trend he got out four times in a similar manner and he admits it first up. He admitted yesterday that on Olivier’s line coming back at him he should have kept his gloves down rather than keeping them up. As he goes away and plays for Somerset now, he will have some time off from us. And we will reassess when we come in September.” Pakistan now play South Africa in a five-match ODI series followed by three T20Is.