Sunday May 19, 2024

Fielding was the difference between the two sides: Arthur

May 21, 2019

LEEDS: Ahead of the 2019 World Cup, Pakistan have been hit by an unexpected hurdle. At the start of the ODI series versus England, their batting department was expected to be the weak link in the UK in the early summer. However, their batting unit put up considerable scores on flat pitches.

Pakistan, though, lacked that bite which is often associated with their bowling department. And towards the end of the series, their abysmal fielding - which saw regulation catches being put down and a slew of misfields, raised questions over their World Cup chances with less than two weeks to go for the showpiece event.

“That has been a massive difference between the two sides,” conceded Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s head coach, after their 4-0 loss at Leeds. “At Southampton and Nottingham, it was anybody’s game going into the last five overs. We competed really well. The one difference has been our fielding and that’s a real worry for me.”

Pakistan, historically, have struggled in terms of their fielding. However, during Steve Rixon’s two-year tenure, Pakistan saw a marked improvement in relation to their fielding standards. Since he has moved away from the set-up, the side’s fielding has deteriorated.

Even though Arthur credited the current fielding coach for his work, he did concede that one of the factors behind the decline was due to the addition of the players who didn’t train under Rixon.

“We are putting in a hell lot of an effort in it and there’s not a massive amount of reward there for us at the moment. We will just keep knocking away to make sure that we get it up to the speed because we have a couple of young, new players who weren’t a part of that regime which we equipped to be the best as we can. So we are trying to put things up and bring them up to the speed as quick as we can.

“‘Stumper’ (Rixon) did a great job for us and Grant Bradburn is doing a wonderful job. Fielding is about attitude and wanting to get out there and get it done. Our boys’ attitude has been outstanding throughout this series and in the years before. They know where they’re short and they are not happy about it.” There’s a notion in Pakistan that the side needs a ‘bit of kick up on the backside’ ahead of a major event. Famously, it happened during their successful 1992 World Cup campaign where they won only one match out of the first five. Most recently, it happened two years ago when they received a heavy drubbing from India in their Champions Trophy opener after which they turned into world-beaters overnight to clinch the title.

So, does this series defeat serve the same purpose? “We were beaten hands down at Edgbaston (by India in 2017 ICC Champions Trophy... that day and as I say I didn’t really know where to turn because there wasn’t a lot of positives that day,” replied Arthur. “We sit here and take a hell lot of the positives out of this series.