Hail King Arthur!

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Although the name ‘Mickey’ is more associated with the cartoon character Mickey Mouse, in Pakistan it has developed a whole new meaning in the last few months. Ever since Mickey Arthur took over the Pakistan Cricket team as Head Coach, the team has been going up, up and away and all those who didn’t want him in the first place (including this scribe) now want him to have a long innings at the top.

Why people didn’t like Mickey Arthur as a coach in Pakistan has more to do with his stint with the flop team of Pakistan Super League, Karachi Kings. There were reports of infightings, questionable captaincy and below par performance about the team that disappointed everyone with its conduct. However, Arthur changed gears as soon as he became coach of the Pakistan side and showed that he had learnt his lesson from the PSL stint. He gave proper chances to the selected players and dropped them when he should have. The case of the incompetent opener Mohammad Hafeez is here for consideration who is thankfully no longer part of the national teams since he always put himself first, team second.

However, if Arthur wants to continue doing well, he might ask for a say in selection because not many trusts the Inzamam ul Haq led selectors. They can’t find a quality pacer who can bowl more than 90 miles per hour consistently from all over Pakistan; a right arm medium paced all-rounder who can do an Azhar Mahmood or Abdur Razzaq when the time arises. Bilawal Bhatti and Hammad Azam are players around whom you can make your strategy but Inzamam ul Haq sees them as ‘wanna-be’ cricketers, just as he had seen Misbah ul Haq in early part of his career.

Right now what he can do is improvise with the current players and get even better results. Why not include Umar Akmal at number 4 or 5 and use Sarfraz Ahmed as an opener when Azhar Ali isn’t delivering results. Why not use Rizwan at the top of the order instead of lower down the order where he is being wasted. Shoaib Malik’s time is as good as over and we must prepare Asad Shafiq as his replacement; he can also be used at the top of the order. Mohammad Nawaz and Imad Wasim are good batsmen besides being bowlers so why not use one of them as pinch hitters. Think about it!

And then there is the strange case of Waqar Younis, Mickey Arthur’s predecessor under whose coaching Pakistan didn’t even try to better its ODI ranking. He claims that the success of the current squad is due to his advice and actions but that’s not the case. Coach Waqar Younis was bad news for his own players and a lot of them had issues with him, some of whom have performed better after he quit. He was dead against including Sarfraz Ahmed in the final XI and look where he is now … Asad Shafiq wasn’t one of his favourite players yet he is now the Mr. Dependable of Pakistan Cricket. He had issues with Younis Khan as well … and we all know this Younis is the best thing to happen to Pakistan Cricket this millennium. Commentator Waqar Younis is advised to concentrate on his job in the commentary box and let King Arthur do his work. Pakistan needs thinking coaches to win matches, not those who think after they have quit.

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Omair Alavi has been writing on films and sports long before the Internet became common in Pakistan. You will be able to read his insights about everything that has anything to do with either sports or entertainment.

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