Mickey Arthur makes case for return of cricket to Pakistan

Nine years after the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has said he hopes Pakistan can return home. (AFP)
Updated 26 April 2018
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Mickey Arthur makes case for return of cricket to Pakistan

LAHORE: Nine years after the armed attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has said he hopes Pakistan are “really close” to hosting the world’s leading teams there again.
International cricket in Pakistan was effectively suspended for several years after the 2009 attack, with only Zimbabwe playing several limited-overs fixtures in Pakistan three years ago.
The side have subsequently welcomed a World XI and last year played a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka in Lahore, while earlier this month they completed a 3-0 at home to the West Indies, the World Twenty20 champions.
Test cricket has yet to resume in Pakistan, with the UAE remaining their “home away from home.”
But that is something the Pakistan coach hopes is coming to an end, with the South African certain that top-class teams will soon be touring the country.
“I hope we’re really close,” Arthur said. “The color, the passion, the excitement for our local people to see cricket there was amazing, and for our players to play in front of their fans and families and just play at home was amazing.
“We’ve had a couple of those now — the World XI, Sri Lanka and now the West Indies,” he said. “They were great occasions, so let’s hope that opens the door once again.”
Arthur, a former head coach of South Africa and Australia, was speaking ahead of the side’s two-Test series against England. Arthur’s first Test series in charge of Pakistan ended in an impressive 2-2 draw there in 2016.
England will come into the contest following Test series defeats in both Australia and New Zealand, but Arthur expects them to prove far more threatening on home soil.
“It’s a little bit early to get too controversial,” said a smiling Arthur when asked if Pakistan could exploit the “weakness” of an England top-order featuring captain Joe Root.
“I saw Dawid Malan play exceptionally well in Perth ... we know Root is world class, (Jonny) Bairstow is world class; they are a really good side.”
Pakistan, described by Arthur as a “young team trying to resurrect our Test side” following the retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, will look to left-arm paceman Mohammed Amir to lead their attack.
Amir, whose career was almost ended by a jail term and suspension for spot-fixing during the 2010 Lord’s Test, has been a key man for Pakistan since making his international return in 2016.
The 26-year-old is a proven swing bowler in English conditions. “He is our number one bowler, we back him in tough situations,” Arthur said.
“We need him to get the ball swinging, we need him to get his length slightly fuller, and if he gets that he’s going to ask a lot of questions.”


Pakistan batsman Babar Azam to miss rest of England series

Updated 26 May 2018
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Pakistan batsman Babar Azam to miss rest of England series

  • Babar was struck by a rising delivery from Ben Stokes and was forced to retire hurt on 68
  • An X-ray showed a fracture just above his left wrist

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Babar Azam will miss the rest of the first test against England at Lord’s, and the second test in Leeds, after scans showed he has a broken forearm.
Babar was struck by a rising delivery from Ben Stokes after tea on Day 2 on Friday and was forced to retire hurt on 68.
An X-ray showed a fracture just above his left wrist.