Mickey Arthur has warned his Pakistan players they will have to raise their game “considerably” if they are to defeat England in the third Test at Edgbaston.
Arthur, the Pakistan coach, admitted that he was “really disappointed” by his side’s performance in defeat at Old Trafford and questioned whether some of them felt they had achieved their objectives with victory at Lord’s. Now he has urged them to replicate the “warrior” performance they demonstrated in that game at Lord’s and insisted England have a vulnerability that can be exploited.
“We’re going to have to raise our game considerably from Old Trafford,” Arthur said. “I was really disappointed with our performance at Old Trafford. Really disappointed. There are credible losses and there are losses when you lie down and were steam rolled. Old Trafford was clearly that.
“At Lord’s we were upbeat and played with real spirit. We had that edge. I told the guys I thought we were warriors at Lord’s. But we were completely the opposite at Old Trafford.
“I wasn’t sure if it was as if we had reached our goal and our goal was to come and win a Test and then take your foot off the pedal.”
Part of Pakistan’s problem at Old Trafford was the balance of their side. With just four frontline bowlers playing in back-to-back Tests, Pakistan looked a weary side as England amassed a huge first-innings total. But it seems they have given up on the possibility of Mohammad Hafeez, who remains suspended from bowling in international cricket until he is cleared in an ICC test, taking any part in the series with a ball.
“We’re very keen to get Hafeez back but we realise that it’s a delicate process,” Arthur said. “We did some really good work with him during the tour game in Worcester. We got the spin coach Carl Crowe – who worked with Sunil Narine – to work with him for two days. We’re confident that he is getting back to where he needs to be and that gives us so much balance, especially with our left-armers, as suddenly we have an offspinner who can hit those footmarks as well.
“We’ll keep chipping away at his action and I’m confident that, if everything goes well, we can have him tested before the one-dayers. Then that will give us another string to our bow in the ODI series.”
But while he conceded the current side had improvements to make, he will resist calls to select Umar Akmal or Ahmed Shehzad until they can demonstrate that they “buy into” the values of the side.
“That’s been a burning question for a long time,” Arthur said. “I took over once Umar and Ahmed had been left out of the squad and clearly they were left out for the right reasons. I’m hoping they still want to play for their country. But they need to prove to us that they want to be part of our set-up.
“As I’ve always said there are no passengers in our set-up. They’ve got to be part of our set-up and buy into what we want to do with the cricket team otherwise it is irrelevant how good they are. We’re going in a direction at pace and we don’t need anyone pulling us down.
“Saying that, I’ve had a very brief conversation with Ahmed and not had any conversation for Umar and that will be something for later down the line. I think they’re very exciting cricketers but sometimes we need more than that.”
Arthur remained confident that Pakistan can retake the lead in the series at Edgbaston. As well as having analysed the reasons for defeat in Manchester, he felt there were faultiness within the England team that can be exploited. Most noticeably, he suggested their batting is over-reliant upon Alastair Cook and Joe Cook and that, if Pakistan can strike with the new ball, they could put the likes of James Vince and Gary Ballance under pressure.
“Vince and Ballance are quality players,” Arthur said. “But at this level confidence is such an important thing. They clearly know when they walk out to bat that they are playing for their Test places. So that provides another level of pressure. It’s not just the opposition running in and bowling a cricket ball at you. Suddenly that pressure is intensified as they’re playing for their places as well.
“We feel if we can get into them with the new ball we’ve got a real good chance. Clearly Cook and Root are the beacon of England batting at moment.”