Cash and harry: Dr Ansari’s consortium want Arthur replaced by a more synergetic coaching team
A group of leading Pakistani physicians have offered to pay off the final year of Mickey Arthur’s contract as they urge the country’s board to seek a new start after the team’s disastrous Asia Cup campaign.
They believe the coach has failed to fully commit to the cause in a sport which unites the disparate 220 million population like very little else. Furthermore they accuse the South African of sidelining Sarfraz Ahmed over selection and key decisions, arguing that he leaves the captain to burden the disappointment of a nation’s failure.
Dr Kashif Ansari, a cricket analyst who is also a global advisor to the Pakistan Super League franchise Peshawar Zalmi, fronts the consortium of half-a-dozen doctors based in the United States. In an interview with Guerilla Cricket, the leading internet alternative commentary service, he says: “My proposition to Mr Arthur is, whatever the number of months left on your contract, whatever your salary, take this salary, terminate the contract and let us look for someone who can work with Sarfraz and work with the board on a more accommodating basis. We need somebody to work with team in synergy looking at cultural, habitual and social issues along with the cricketing ones.
“We put this proposition because we know the board will come back with an excuse – that there are 12 months left, we can’t get him out. We will say ‘here is the cheque – get him out’.”
Supporters of Arthur will point to the country’s Champions Trophy victory in England in the summer of 2017 – albeit after having been beaten comprensively by finalists India in the group stage – subsequent one-day whitewashes of Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and convincing T20I series against Sri Lanka and West Indies, but Dr Ansari, an oncologist and haematologist who practises in Houston, Texas, has a different stance.
“For the past 18 months we have been witnessing some serious issues with the current coach, about his leadership, about his stubbornness in certain areas,” says Dr Ansari.
“This guy lives outside the country. He only comes to Pakistan about a week before the next international tour, he does three to four days of a fitness camp, a skill camp and then picks one guy, drops another guy, picks another, drops another…
“It doesn’t work that way. These are professional cricketers. You need to work with them day-in, day-out. Of course 50 per cent of responsibility is that of the cricketer himself but 50 per cent is the coach and the board. But the system is allowing these youngsters to get laid back, go easy on themselves.
“So after several weeks’ break after 23 July when Pakistan came back from Zimbabwe [for a T20I series] until they had the fitness camp, what were these guys doing?”
He claims that Arthur has neglected the claims of the likes of Azhar Ali, Mohammed Hafeez – players who scored fifties in the Champions Trophy final victory – failed to understand the culture of the country and that the captain has little input into significant rulings.
“On many occasions I have talked to Sarfraz about certain players and he has said: ‘Mickey doesn’t listen to me.’ If that is the case, then Mickey should be facing the media, Mickey should be facing the whole country. But what happens is he lives outside the country, his children don’t have to be raised there; Sarfraz has to live there, his children have to grow up there, face the population, face their friends.
“Pakistan society is divided on many different lines. They have different religious followings, different cultures, different languages but in cricket they are all tied together; they are one knot. They are like one string to which all these little pearls are attached. When they do well at cricket they come together under one umbrella. When they lose at cricket, everyone takes it so personally that it is like they have lost the hope of their lives”.
Arthur’s coaching career has been mired in controversy. He was sacked as Australia coach in the fallout over Homework-gate shortly before the back-to-back Ashes series of 2013. He had challenged players to produce essays on things that they could do better during the calamitous tour of India earlier that year and, when four refused to do so, he left them out of the next Test.
He was appointed to his position with Pakistan in May 2016 on a two-year deal, and in October 2017, the PCB extended that arrangement until next year’s World Cup, again in England.
In this year’s Asia Cup, Pakistan suffered two humiliating defeats at the hands of India and, handed the chance to rectify matters by setting up a final against their fiercest rivals, fell short in what was effectively a semi-final against Bangladesh yesterday after having their opponents 13 for three early in the game. Their only victories came against Hong Kong, who were recently deprived of their one-day international status, and in the tightest of finishes against the surprise package of the tournament, Afghanistan.