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.”


Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

Updated 20 January 2019
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Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City ease past Huddersfield to cut Liverpool’s Premier League lead

HUDDERSFIELD: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was far from satisfied despite a 3-0 win away to Huddersfield Town on Sunday that saw his side cut Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to four points.
Liverpool’s compelling 4-3 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday heaped huge pressure back onto reigning champions City but they were rarely troubled by a Town side that look a certain bet for relegation this season.
City’s first goal, a deflected strike for Danilo in the 18th minute, brought up their 100th goal of the season in all competitions before Raheem Sterling scored a diving header from Leroy Sane’s cross in the 54th minute and Sane himself made it 3-0 with a calm finish just two minutes later.
For Guardiola, it should have been an afternoon of enjoyment as his side again proved their willingness to push Liverpool all the way this season.
The City manager, however, has forged a footballing reputation based on sublime performances as well as ruthless goalscoring and, on that basis, his team’s showing in West Yorkshire was not a success as the visitors never really clicked into gear on a day against a Huddersfield side who had parted company with manager David Wagner on Monday.
“During the season you have these kind of games,” Guardiola said. “It is important to win. We have scored many goals in all competitions.
“(But) the way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future.
“We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“Today we are happy we have won but after immediately we have to analyze. During the season you have games when maybe you are not in the top level and it is important to win these games.”
Although City’s fans were happier than their manager following this result, Guardiola could at least take some heart from the fact his side again refused to blink first in the race for the title.
For the second consecutive week, City kicked off knowing Liverpool had already won their weekend fixture and that, consequently, the onus was back on his players to secure three points as well.
Once again, Guardiola’s side managed to do that following up the 3-0 victory over Wolves with this showing and the City manager was more than happy to remind everybody that silverware is not handed out for another four months.
“One team has been better but we’re in January and there’s many more games to play,” he added.
“You don’t win or lose the Premier League in January. We have to focus on what we have to do. If Liverpool win, we have to win. And if Liverpool lose then we also have to win.”
This match was a baptism of fire for Huddersfield’s caretaker boss Mark Hudson and while the Terriers showed impressive fight to inspire some hope this season, this defeat still left them 10 points adrift of safety.
If, as expected, the Borussia Dortmund Under-23 coach Jan Siewert is appointed as Wagner’s permanent replacement, nobody would blame him if he spent his first day in the job preparing for a return to the second-tier Championship next season.
“It’s been a long week,” admitted Hudson.