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Mickey Arthur: Pakistan’s one-day woes

Mickey Arthur
Mickey Arthur

Mickey Arthur has admitted he can “see why” Pakistan are in danger of not qualifying for the 2019 50-over World Cup following their 4-1 series drubbing against England.

The coach was left searching for answers as his new team slipped to ninth in the one-day rankings – their worst placing since they were introduced in 1998 – just weeks after topping the Test match charts.

Sunday’s (September 4) four-wicket consolation win in Cardiff did little to help the subcontinent side’s cause, who could now be forced to enter a play-off to take part in the showpiece event in three years time.

The cut-off for automatic places is next September, and as things stand Pakistan are one place outside of that mark with their lowest rating of 86. They are eight points behind the West Indies ahead of their must-win series with the Caribbean nation in late September/early October.

In a disastrous campaign that saw Pakistan concede a world record 444 runs in the third ODI at Trent Bridge, Arthur is already fearing for the future in the one-day arena, saying: “It is what it is. I hate the phrase, but we are number nine in the world and we can see why.”

“When I saw the fixture list, the games aren’t easy,” the South African added. He at least has the comfort of knowing his squad are through to next year’s Champions Trophy in England.

“We’ve got two series against the West Indies that we have to play well in – they are a decent one-day outfit. Between them, we are sandwiched with an ODI series in Australia, which is incredibly tough.”

With only 10 countries guaranteed a spot in the next World Cup under an ICC revamp – the top seven in the rankings and hosts England – if Pakistan fail to secure a top eight berth, they will have to play a qualifying tournament in Bangladesh for the two remaining places.

That could mean potential banana skin ties against the likes of Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe.

“I’m finding my way with the one-day team. I want to give opportunities and then we will know by the end of the tour who we can and can’t take forward,” Arthur added.

“England are a phenomenal team, power-hitters all the way down. We haven’t been able to get quick starts and clear the ropes. We just don’t have the players to do that in our group of 15 at the moment. I look at the strikers England have at their disposal – it’s unbelievable.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood wants the 1992 World Cup winners to follow England’s example as they make their own attempt of staging a one-day revival.

“It’s been a disappointing time for us,” Mahmood explained. “The way we bowled at Nottingham wasn’t good enough. We are going to make mistakes. As long as we learn from them, we hope we can turn the tables around.

“(Look at) Where England were 18 months ago (after a shock first round exit at last year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand); they changed the mentality and we have to do the same thing.

“Mindset, a little bit more aggression, a bit more positive cricket, intent. We need to change this mentality and thinking. Moving forward, we’ve got young players who can change things around but it will take time.”

“They (England) have got players like (Mahmood’s county team mate) Jason Roy – he can change the game in no time – (Eoin) Morgan, Jos Buttler.

“They’ve got a good unit of young players who understand the game and can play big shots and rotate the strike well. Where we are lacking as a batting unit we are not rotating the strike and we don’t have the guys who can clear the ropes.

“We need to find those guys very quickly if we want to improve in one-day cricket.”

Mahmood hopes Arthur can have the same kind of impact current assistant coach Paul Farbrace has had on England after they sacked Peter Moores.

“When Mooresy left and Farby took over, that’s the time they thought: ‘We’ve got not nothing to lose, we just need to express ourselves on the field’.”

Asked why Pakistan can’t take their Test form into the one-dayers, Mahmood added: “We’ve got a lot of new faces in the ODI side.

“We are number one in Test match cricket (because) we’ve got players who have been playing for the last five years. It’s a consistency we need to give our one-day guys too.”