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July 7, 2019

Give these players more time and support, urges Arthur


July 7, 2019

LONDON: There is almost always a knee jerk reaction back at home whenever the Pakistan team returns empty-handed from a major event like the ongoing ICC World Cup in England.

It might happen again.

In the wee hours of Sunday, Pakistan’s players will reach home after failing to reach the World Cup semi-finals despite winning their last four group games in a row.

There is a big likelihood that Pakistan’s cricket authorities will rethink their strategy in the aftermath of the World Cup exit but the country’s head coach hopes that his charges will be given more time.

“These players are the future but they need time and they need support, but they are going to be champions,” Mickey Arthur told reporters here at the Lord’s on Friday evening after Pakistan’s convincing 94-run World Cup win against Bangladesh.

“Their performances will be up and down because that happens with young cricketers but I want to stay positive, there is no place for negativity if Pakistan cricket is to achieve its potential,” Arthur said.

The coach did express his disappointment at Pakistan’s failure to qualify for the last four despite winning five of their eight matches.

“It’s been a World Cup of ifs and buts, a tournament of two halves and that’s disappointing,” he said.

“We’ve ended very strongly and it’s nice to know we’ve beaten two of those semi-finalists (England and New Zealand), which shows we aren’t that far off as a top, top cricket team,” he added.

Arthur took pride in the fact that Pakistan won against the top teams despite being the youngest side in the tournament.

“The average age of our side is just 24, that’s something to be really proud about and it bodes well for the future of Pakistan cricket,” he said.

“Their work ethic, grit and passion has been a credit them. You don’t see what goes on in this dressing room, I can see their desire and their determination to improve and that means our cricket is in safe hands.

“Watch the highlights package of this World Cup and they’ll be a lot of Pakistan players on it. The guys can leave with their heads held very high.

“I’m just so passionate about this team, I want to see Pakistan get back to where they need to be.”

Arthur bemoaned the fact that a huge, one-sided loss against West Indies turned out to be the decisive factor for Pakistan.

“When you lose the first game the way we did against the West Indies, it’s really hard to get your net run rate back and that has ultimately cost us,” he said.

“I think the nerves got the better of us that day, something that won’t happen again in four years with this team. We froze but I was so proud of how we bounced back and how much we’ve learned.”

Athur was all praise for his players.

“We’ve showcased a lot of our young talent, and I think the likes of Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, the list goes on and on.

“And some of our experienced players, Sarfraz, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, have been outstanding.

“A lot of the time, you guys don’t see what goes on in the dressing room. You don’t see all the time that goes on in the net session. The desire these guys have got to improve and become the best they can be, the passion they have for their country is something that is second to none. Pakistan cricket is in safe hands with these young players. I’m sure they’ll go from strength to strength.”

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has been under a lot of criticism especially in the aftermath of the team’s defeat against India at Old Trafford. Bu Arthur threw his weight behind Sarfraz.

“I must say that I’d just like to credit the captain, Sarfraz. After what he was exposed to after the Indian game was atrocious as a Pakistan cricket captain, as any captain of any cricket team, and the way he held his composure, the way he led from the front, the way his work ethic never, ever changed, the more determined he got through the tournament, I think he’s been an inspiration to that dressing room, and I think Sarfraz deserves a lot of credit.”

Pakistan went into their final group game against Bangladesh needing a big win by 300 plus runs to qualify for the semis. Did they even talk about the possibility of achieving such a result?

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a discussion. We did discuss it. We won the toss, which was a good start. To get to 400 you need a good platform.

“The message we got from Fakhar (Zaman) when he came back in the changing room was that it (wicket) was slow. We realized that getting 400 was a bit of a pipe dream. And then we realized we just wanted to win and we wanted to win well.”

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