Following Sunday’s momentous achievement in the final of ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur interacted with media. Here is what they had to say.
Sarfraz Ahmed: First of all, thanks to Almighty Allah. I think great things went for me and my team and my country. Hopefully this win, everyone will remember, not today, not tomorrow, very long, long time. And now after no one talking, a few of our guys beat India in World Cup or any other tournament, and credit goes to my team management. They worked really hard after the first defeat. They motivated us, and they passed it on to my boys. They’re learning very well, and they’re hard working, and when we arrived here, we are No. 8, and now we are the champions, so hopefully, this win will boost up Pakistan cricket and hopefully all playing nations will be coming to Pakistan. Thank you very much (sic).
Q. On behalf of the team, has the Eid come early for the team, especially through this victory?
Mickey Arthur (MA): Yeah, I suppose it has.
Q. Mickey, you have been a coach of quite a few nations, South Africa and Australia. Is this your biggest achievement as a coach?
MA: Yeah, look, certainly, yeah, certainly it’s not about me and my career, it’s about 15 unbelievable players in that dressing room who have been absolutely fantastic for the last year. So that’s what it should be about. But it is, you know, it really is. I’ve had — I was telling somebody the other day that I’ve had five semi-finals with South Africa and never got to a final. I got to one final with Pakistan and eventually got a medal. So that’s fantastic. But the credit goes to the players. They’ve been brilliant, and my fellow coaching staff and management team have been fantastic, as well.
Q. Mickey, obviously you’ve got a number of match winners and heroes on your side, but can you just give us a word on Mohammad Amir, who missed the semi-final, obviously has had his trials and tribulations but has delivered on the biggest stage in those final with those wickets at the start of his spell, just a word on your impressions of that?
MA: Well, look, we spoke about it actually in the team meeting. We thought that — I think I said it yesterday if we could get amongst the Indian top order early we could probably expose the middle order that hadn’t batted a fair amount, and Amir was the guy that could do that for us. I think — guys were talking in the first two games, he didn’t get a wicket but he had bowled particularly well. We were always thinking it was one spell in somewhere, and the spell came thankfully today at the start of a final. We put India on the back foot and certainly gave us the upper hand.
Q. Mickey, you came into this tournament ranked eighth, got smashed in the first game and then you were sort of very passionate that day in the press conference. Can you walk us through that turnaround and how it feels now?
MA: Oh, it sort of feels surreal really, to be honest. But the thing about that loss, and I think we clarified it at that time, was we knew that was an aberration. It wasn’t the norm because we had prepared properly. We had prepared really well. You know, we knew the caliber of players we had. We knew what their abilities were, and that certainly wasn’t what we had trained for, and we didn’t play to anywhere near our ability. So we just had to keep believing and keep them trusting the techniques and keep them trusting their game plan and keep them trusting their roles, and that’s why I say I’m incredibly proud of that dressing room because they did that. They kept on believing, they kept on trusting their roles, they kept on trusting the game plan that Saffy and I had set up. They trusted that, and that was the most important thing. And it was one or two personnel changes, they brought in a little bit of a breath of fresh air, and I think, again, the younger players that have come into the setup have been fantastic because they’ve both been a breath of fresh air, and they’ve played the fielder’s brand of cricket that we want to play. So it’s been great.
Q. Mickey, what happened between the time after India’s defeat and before the start of this game? What did you do to these guys to have such a remarkable comeback?
MA: To be honest not a hell of a lot. We had some good, hard conversations, but we didn’t train anymore or — because we knew the base had been done. All that had been put in place. If we had tried to train anymore, we would have — as a coaching staff, would have been seemed to be panicking, and that’s the last thing you want to do in those situations. We trusted the players. We trusted what we had put in place, but we had some good honest conversation. We had some conversation about stepping up, had a conversation about standing up to our position. And the players almost drove that conversation, which for us was very new, but also showed a maturity, and the way they turned it around was unbelievable.
Q. Mickey, you spoke about Amir, but what does it say about his personality that he’s been able to bowl at this level, perform like this after everything he’s been through in his career?
MA: Oh, look, it says a lot about his personality. I think we’ve been through all that before. But what I do know is that Mohammad Amir, he’s a big match player. I do know that when the game is on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs, the more amped up he gets, so he doesn’t shy away from pressure situations. He doesn’t shy away from big games. He’s got proper big match temperament, and he showed that today on the biggest stage.
Q. Mickey, you are in the know of how Pakistan has been suffering not being able to play at home for the last eight years, kids not being able to watch their own players before their eyes, so how big a boost this win will be for the Pakistan cricket?
MA: Oh, look, I think it’ll be massive. I really do. I hope that — and I’m sure that the nation of Pakistan is really happy tonight because they deserve it. For what they’ve been through, for what — you talk about our players not playing at home. But also the fans not identifying with heroes because they just don’t see international cricket. That’s massive for the country. So let’s hope that this really kick-starts that momentum in Pakistan again.
Q. Sarfraz has just said that he hopes this might be a way that teams come and play in Pakistan. Are you picking up any vibes that that might be feasible in the reasonable near future?
MA: We have so. We’re scheduled to have a World 11 in Pakistan in September for three Twenty20 games. So hopefully that starts paving the way for future tours. We can only hope.