September 26, 2019
SYDNEY - Mickey Arthur was disappointed that people he trusted - and, as it turns out, helped appoint - ultimately made the decision to not extend his stint as Pakistan coach. Arthur was keen to carry on in a position he had been in for three years and, post-World Cup, had conversations with the PCB hierarchy in which he had expressed his keenness to do so.
But the PCB’s cricket committee, including Misbah-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram, carried out a review of Arthur’s tenure before deciding to move on. And the fact that it was Misbah who ended up succeeding Arthur as coach was not lost on the latter.
“I guess the only disappointment I have out of the whole lot is that there were some people I really trusted who ultimately didn’t follow through,” Arthur told ESPNcricinfo’s Stump Mic podcast. “I’m not talking about the hierarchy, I’m talking about people on the cricket committee that I did trust who sort of said one thing and ultimately did another. So that was the disappointing aspect of it.”
There was also a degree of irony in events unfolding as they did, because Arthur said he had recommended Misbah and Akram’s names when the committee was first being put together by the PCB chairman Ehsan Mani. That committee also includes the PCB chief executive Wasim Khan, senior officials and former players Haroon Rasheed, Zakir Khan, Mudassar Nazar, and former women’s captain Urooj Mumtaz.
“I said Misbah would be outstanding because he was a godfather of Pakistan cricket and he is - Misbah is an outstanding individual make no mistake about that. And I sort of said, I thought Wasim Akram would be good to get on the committee because I think Wasim just understands the international game so well. He carries a huge stature in international cricket.
“Those were guys I endorsed and guys I really enjoyed. As I say, they had a job to do and they decided it was in the best interests of Pakistan cricket to go with a fresh set of eyes. And it just happened to be that Misbah was on the committee that didn’t renew our contracts and becomes this heir-apparent. Ultimately Misbah will do a good job, Misbah is a good guy and Pakistan cricket made their decision. I was disappointed because I loved every second of that job.”
Arthur’s fate was sealed during a five-hour grilling by the committee in early August, a month after Pakistan narrowly failed to make the semi-finals of the World Cup. There was plenty of speculation about the mood, tenor and substance of that review and Arthur’s response to whether he felt he’d been given a fair hearing doesn’t kill that speculation.
“I was certainly given a chance, I was certainly given a grilling, I was certainly asked a lot of questions,” he said. “The thing that disappointed me just a little bit out of that was that a lot of the questions I was being asked were questions that could be debated either way. So it was a matter of opinion. A lot of it was spoken about it in hindsight - some of the selections etc etc, which was all in hindsight. And it’s always easy to speak in hindsight. And a lot of the information that they told me was actually factually incorrect. And [that was] I guess the information they ended up making their decision on. But, again, I just want to say it was a great time. Yes, I was disappointed but at the end of the day, I had three fantastic years with Pakistan.”
Indeed, regret and not bitterness has been very much the overriding emotion, as Arthur is keen to stress. He will coach Central Stags in New Zealand’s Super Smash T20 later this year and even though his future as Karachi Kings coach remains unclear - as he touches upon in the podcast - he wants to get back to international coaching.
“Yeah, I’ll make no bones about it, I would’ve liked to have gone on, because we had just built a team,” he said. “It had taken us three years to get to where we needed to be. Our T20 team was going along beautifully, No. 1 in the world, our ODI team, we had played a lot of young players who were just coming to the fore and I think we saw at the backend of the World Cup how exciting we could be as a team. And the challenge was going to be to build a new Test team, so there were a lot of interesting challenges out there with Pakistan. I was so looking forward to maybe carrying on for just a little bit extra.”