Some philosopher had rightly said that life is like an ocean. What it takes, it gives back.
Mickey Arthur’s was sacked as Australia coach by the end of Champions Trophy 4 years ago.
This time Mickey Arthur ended the Champions Trophy being the coach of champion Pakistan. That too, in the very same venue where he was cut off from his responsibility 4 years ago.
He has made a champion team out of nowhere, having helped to lift Pakistan from the brink of an embarrassing group-stage exit to their first major ODI trophy in 25 years.
Apart from the discipline, the South African coach has injected a self-belief among the Pakistan Cricketers: that they can become the best. In the just concluded Champions Trophy, Pakistan have beaten the World Number 1 and the hot favorites of the tournament.
Arthur has always put the concept of a team ahead of individuals. After the final at the Oval, he himself said, “Yeah certainly (but) 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.”
Now, this sounds really interesting.
After three years on the outer at international level, Arthur took the reins at Pakistan a little more than 12 months ago and helped to guide them to the world No.1 Test ranking just four months later.
But their lack of progression in 50-over cricket, which had seen them drop to No.8 in the world rankings and in danger of missing automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, seemingly reached its lowest ebb with a 124-run thrashing against India at Edgbaston a fortnight ago. “We had some good, hard conversations (after the India game), but we didn’t train anymore (than normal) because we knew the base had been done. All that had been put in place,” Arthur told after Pakistan defeated India in the final.
Taking over after Waqar Younis’s departure after Pakistan’s humiliating form in the 2016 World Twenty20, Arthur was tasked with the restoration of the team’s unsatisfactory positions in all three formats of the game. It wasn’t clear whether Mickey’s own reputation as a strict disciplinarian, especially on his last assignment with Australia, would be a hindrance in a Pakistani environment or not. In addition, the culture of nepotism which had been a bug bear of Pakistan teams of the past would also be a hurdle which he needed to tackle.
And Arthur did everything right after taking the charge. The chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, was very helpful from the very beginning. Mickey found an able partner and ally who shared some of his ideas. Inzamam had strong views on selection by merit alone. His first major assignment was the tour of England where Pakistan distinguished themselves in the Test series.
But the 4-1 loss to England in one-day internationals where Pakistan also conceded the highest total ever in ODIs was a stark reminder to Mickey that the road ahead was not an easy one. Arthur was also coming to terms with the lack of professionalism amongst the Pakistan ranks.
Concepts of healthy diets and fitness regimes which were taken for granted in most of the world’s top teams appeared strange to Pakistani players. Mickey Arthur started to demand transformations from his team. The message to his team was now clear. You, as a player, would only be on his team if you had something to offer to the team. He can praise a young talent as well as to be strict enough to any fitness issues of an experienced player which one is seen in the case of Umar Akmal.
Apart from the discipline, what Mickey Arthur seems to have instilled in his team is the belief and determination which is crucial to success at this level. He emphasizes on integrity.
And the result can be seen by the whole world.