It was hostile environment in Ahmedabad in the WC match against India: Mickey Arthur

Pakistan captain Babar Azam and team director Mickey Arthur in a conversation during a practice session ahead of their match against Bangladesh in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
| Photo Credit: ANI

Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s former team director, admitted that the ODI World Cup match against India at Ahmedabad was one of the toughest moments during his stint, taking the side through a hostile environment.

Arthur moved on after Pakistan failed to reach the semifinals of the showpiece event last year, while former all-rounder Mohammed Hafeez replaced him in the role.

“It was extremely tough not having any Pakistan support. The one thing that really drives the Pakistan team is the incredible support they receive at grounds and hotels. Here we never had that, and that was quite tough in a World Cup, particularly for the players,” Arthur was quoted as saying by the ‘Wisden.’

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“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,” he added.

Pakistan’s World Cup campaign was as usual marked by high-level off-field turbulence, including news about dressing room discord and leaked WhatsApp conversations of then skipper Babar Azam.

However, Arthur said all those outside commotions never really affected the team.

“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,” he said.

“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.

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There were unequivocally no massive disagreements with the players,” Arthur added.

Arthur, who guided Pakistan to 2017 Champions Trophy title, defended his decision to work with the Pakistan team as director while holding on to his job with English county Derbyshire.

The South African said he found the remarks about him being an online coach by former Pakistan players to be unbelievably ignorant.

“Anybody who knows me will also know that I will not commit 100 per cent if I can’t do it. With Pakistan I was never an ‘online coach’ as I put together the coaching staff, I was in constant contact with them every single day and knew exactly what was going on within the team.”

Arthur also made it clear he only accepted the job second time with Pakistan cricket because of his great relationship with former PCB Chairman Najam Sethi who hired him in April last year.

“I trust Najam Sethi implicitly. We have a very good relationship, and I went in to try and help him because I owe him a lot. He’s the one who gave me my opportunity to return to international cricket after I had been sacked by Australia. He and I built up a good relationship. One of the reasons I returned was to specifically work with Najam again,” he detailed.

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Arthur also advised the PCB to have a system where 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,” he said.

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