Saturday, October 28, 2023
CHENNAI: Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan cricket team's director, on Friday defended the players and the management, terming the criticism directed towards skipper Babar Azam and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq as “unfair”.
In the post-match press conference after the South Africa match, Arthur lamented the blame game that seems to have commenced back home following the poor run in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Men in Green have lost four matches in a row — for the first time in the World Cup history — out of six played in the 10-team tournament.
The consecutive losses have left fans and experts baffled, wondering what had gone wrong for a team that was once considered world-class just a few months ago.
Amid the criticism of the team, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had also distanced itself from the selection matters, saying “Captain Babar Azam and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq were given freedom and support in forming the squad for the ICC World Cup 2023.”
Replying to a question about the backlash, Arthur defended the players and the management staff.
"It's really unfair to start a witch hunt, certainly on Babar Azam, on Inzi, on our coaches, on the management team. What I do know is that the boys have tried, and the effort of the coaching staff, the effort of the players has been first-class."
Arthur, however, conceded that the players didn’t perform the way they should have.
"Yeah, look to be brutally honest, we haven't put together the perfect game yet. I don't think we've batted well enough yet as a unit."
"I think that pitch, certainly par on that pitch, is 300 at least," he said admitting that Pakistan's batting couldn't put enough runs on board against South Africa.
"We haven't put together enough runs. And then we haven't put together a bowling performance that goes with it. So tonight, I thought it was our best bowling performance in the competition. Thought we bowled really well, but I still thought we were under par in terms of the runs that we had," Arthur lamented.
Reflecting on the team's performance and their gradual decline from the top ranking, Arthur acknowledged the need for improvement.
"Yeah, look, I think at a World Cup, you've got to be playing your best game at the right time. Our form had sort of drifted off a little bit. And there are various reasons. We talk about it every day as to what it could have been. But our form kind of drifted off."
However, despite the loss against South Africa, Arthur expressed his pride in the team's effort.
"It's a really disappointed dressing room, and our players, I know, can be proud of tonight because they've given it their best shot. And that's all you can ask."
When questioned about the team's prospects for reaching the semi-finals, Arthur remained cautiously optimistic.
"You never know. What I do know is that we need to go and assess combinations again. We need to have a look at the holes we have within our team. We need to start improving in many areas, and we've got to go home and finish this tournament with three victories."
Arthur also addressed the batting concerns, emphasising the importance of converting good starts into substantial scores.
"We've had players get in. We've had players get started. We haven't had players go through it. And I thought, I don't think we managed the last five overs particularly well tonight."