And, after he took charge, one of the things he set about rehashing was their style of play. The batting reinvention is a version of “Bazball”, which England have adopted over the last couple of years for immeasurable success in Test cricket.
Arthur admits one of his challenges was to get all the players to buy into the idea and then work backwards to try and execute and remain steadfast in their commitment to stick with it in a high-stakes environment. And the results are slowly improving. Since the 2019 World Cup, Pakistan have the best win-loss ratio among all teams.
“A part of the attraction for me coming back was that all these young boys that I worked with who have now become men,” Arthur said ahead of Pakistan’s World Cup opener against Netherlands. “The brand of cricket, that’s something that we are trying to get through to our players. They have embraced it. It’s going take a take a little bit of time, but I always say this, there’s always two ways to skin a cat.
“I think our bowling attack is up there as one of the best. And with runs on the board, our bowlers can generally defend that. You watch the likes of England and Australia playing this brand of cricket, ours will also follow that. There’s no doubt. They’re good enough to do that, but we are playing a brand that, we call it the ‘Pakistan way’. We are playing a brand that is very, very particular to Pakistan and suits our team, our team dynamic. That’s the brand that we are going play and hopefully win the World Cup with.”
Shadab’s lack of control and propensity to leak boundaries has become problematic, even though the team isn’t quite stressed just yet. Nawaz is seen to be a bowler who plays more of a holding role than an attacking option, unlike a few of the other sides that have genuine match-winners in the spin department.
“I wholeheartedly back Shadab,” Arthur said. “He’s a wonderful cricketer. You look at his package of bowling, batting, fielding, it’s exceptional. If we look at his bowling in isolation, he’s just short of a little confidence. He hasn’t lost his ability to turn the ball. His googly is still very, very good. He’s one performance away from getting that confidence back and making sure that he has a real big influence on this World Cup. So I’d like that to come tomorrow [against Netherlands], but I’m not worried about Shadab because I know he’s a quality player.”
“The boys have loved being in India. They’ve embraced being here, which has been fantastic. The pressure of a World Cup is always massive, but I think our boys are in a really good place and part of the attraction for me is it’s very similar squad to what we had in 2019 and it’s almost unfinished business I felt in 2019.
“Look, they’re a very close group because they’ve played together for so long. They know each other backwards. They’re not only team-mates, but they’re generally friends as well. I think that goes a long way to building that team spirit. So it does help with the gelling of the team as they’ve been tight for a long period of time now. They’ve had an outing in Hyderabad. They’ve really enjoyed getting out for some dinner. But they just enjoy each other’s company and that makes my heart very happy.”