After days of uncertainty and failed negotiations with several candidates, South Africa- born Mickey Arthur has been handed over the reins of Pakistan cricket. The 47-year-old replaces Waqar Younis as the head coach of the most mercurial team in international cricket. Arthur has rich coaching experience at both the franchise and highest levels of the game, with his most high-profile stints including coaching the national teams of South Africa and Australia. These were largely successful spells but had their share of controversies. Arthur was one of the first coaches in international cricket to openly embrace technology, bringing about a revolution in cricket coaching. He is considered to be a tactically smart coach who relies extensively on data collection and analysis of strengths and weaknesses of both his side as well as the rivals across the three formats.
Besides international teams, Arthur has coached extensively at the franchise level, which also included a stint with Karachi Kings at the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League earlier this year. It should be noted here that the Kings fared well below expectations despite being the most expensive team at the event and Arthur found it hard to churn out a winning combination. Coaching a presently off-colour Pakistan is likely to be Arthur’s toughest challenge yet. The upcoming tour of England will be his first assignment, which will be a testing experience considering that the third-ranked Test team in the world is in for a severe test on alien pitches and unfamiliar conditions. Arthur, who is expected to join the team by the end of May, would quickly need to strategise with Test captain Misbahul Haq keeping in mind the challenge that England poses. His bigger test will be to improve Pakistan’s returns in limited-overs cricket where the national team has plummeted to unprecedented lows. The assignments coming up in the next two years will be an acid test of Arthur’ coaching credentials. Fans can only hope that the seasoned campaigner can bring about a positive change after the disappointment at the World Twenty20.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2016.
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