Pakistan made as many as four changes to their side for the fourth One-Day International at Headingley after their 169-run battering at Trent Bridge. One of which, was Mohammad Irfan coming in after Mohammad Hafeez was ruled out of the series with a calf injury. Irfan, however, much to the dismay of Mickey Arthur, the head coach, only managed to bowl five overs before leaving the field with cramps.
“It’s very frustrating,” Arthur said on Thursday (September 2). “There were checks and balances in place. He was put on standby when we selected our one-day squad, he went to the NCA and did his training. He played two 50-over games and 20-over game and was resident at the NCA for a period of a week and a half.”
The fact that Irfan delivered while he was on the field would have been more frustrating as he removed Jason Roy and Alex Hales in his opening spell to dent England’s chase of 248. He nearly scalped captain Eoin Morgan as well, but was then taken off the attack. He then held onto Joe Root’s catch at fine leg in the 12th over and left the field soon after.
He returned to bowl the 42nd over but managed only one wayward delivery before heading back to the dressing room with the coach clearly unimpressed.
“I’m finding my way with the one-day team,” conceded Arthur. “I want to give guys opportunities and then we’ll know by the end of the tour who we can and can’t take forward. Irfan was a player of interest and I wanted to have a look at him go. Inzi and myself have developed a really good relationship. We speak a hell of a lot. I spent probably 40 minutes on the phone to him yesterday just discussing where we were and possible names who could come in in positions I’ve identified. What I am finding out is who can do a job and who can’t.”
Arthur had said prior to the start of the series that nobody’s position in the side was safe. After finding themselves 0-4 down in the series with one to play, he admitted that the series against England had been an eye-opener.
“England are a phenomenal cricket team, power hitters all the way down, we haven’t been able to get quick starts and clear the ropes,” he said. “We just don’t have the players to do that within our group of 15 at the moment. Those are things we need to address and bear in mind for the next series. It also gives me an opportunity to decide who we take forward and how we play our cricket. With every game that becomes clearer and clearer.”
Over the years, Arthur has reiterated and stuck to his philosophy with regards to off-field standards being as important as on-field performances. Umar Akmal is one whose brilliance on the field might set him apart, but he still finds himself out of the national side, having been sidelined for Twenty20 International series against England.
“They have to conform,” said Arthur. “You would like to think, and I’ve never worked with Umar so it’s all hearsay for me, that he’s learnt a lesson,” Arthur said. “I haven’t had any conversations with him yet. He’s a very good finisher. His form in the local T20 competition is very good so he’s putting his hand up and he’s going about his business in a fairly good way. But in terms of other off-field stuff, that will be decided at a later date and we’ll never compromise.”