With Pakistan languishing at No. 9 in the ICC One-Day International (ODI) Rankings, they have little time to make their presence felt in the top 8 of the standings in order to qualify automatically for the ICC World Cup 2019. With the cut-off date for the mega-event set as September 30 next year, Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s head coach, has his work cut out.
Admitting that Pakistan’s current state is a concern, he said on Friday (August 26) ahead of the second ODI against England at Lord’s, “Pakistan cricket should never be down at No. 9 in the world. We need complete buy-in from the players, we have got to give them a lot of confidence and allow them to grow in the roles, we’ve given them.”
After winning comprehensively against Ireland in Dublin, Pakistan were soundly beaten by England in the first of the five-match ODI series in Southampton. The side’s conservative play, a match in which they failed to hit a single six, certainly didn’t please Arthur.
He said, “I’ve said to the boys we’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. I want to see the guys go out and express themselves, play with a bit of freedom. Playing the way we played the other night, we’re behind the times.”
He has given a sound warning to the team that it is ‘perform or perish’ from hereon. “I said to the players this morning that nobody’s safe,” he said.
Without naming Mohammad Hafeez, who has failed to make significant contribution to the team’s cause lately, he added, “If you’re over 30, you’ve got to be coming to the table more often than not, otherwise it’s an opportunity to blood some younger players. I’m telling no secrets, nobody is 100% safe in the ODI side and the guys know that. Everybody knows they’re on notice.
“I’ve actually started, the other night, going through potential players in Pakistan who can fulfil roles we think we’re going to need to evolve. In the meantime, the 15 players we’ve got here, we’ve got to back, [and] give them the opportunity to stake their claim to be part of the Pakistan ODI squad going forward.
“We’re going to build a team we think can compete in a year or two’s time. The invitation is there to every player: step up or we’ll find somebody else who can step up, it’s as simple as that,” he concluded.
The ongoing series is Arthur’s second ODI assignment in-charge of Pakistan’s side – the first one being a two-match ODI series against Ireland.