A 2-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand hasn’t deterred Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, much as his side gets set to face Australia down under in a three-match Test series first, and then five ODIs.
Speaking to 6PR, an Australian radio channel, the former Australia coach spoke about the hard times in the New Zealand Test series but didn’t sound under-confident about his side’s chances in the upcoming tour.
“We’re a really good cricket team, I think the Australian public are going to see something special. The boys are really skilled, it has taken us some time to adjust to the conditions in New Zealand,” he said. “We play exceptionally well in our own conditions, but it’s just luck I guess when Australia go to Sri Lanka or India or wherever, they really battle. We sort of battle out of our own conditions. But we are really a very special cricket team and are really looking forward to Australia.”
The 48-year-old added, “I think we have become better and better as the series has gone on. We unfortunately arrived straight from Dubai, and we arrived into five days of rain in Nelson, so we didn’t get any training, we didn’t get our practice game which was completely rained out and there’s just been an earthquake for us as well which was… Had this series gone another Test match, we would have been better for the conditions. So I hope this puts us in great stead for what we can experience in Australia.”
Arthur had a special mention for the quality of young talent that Pakistan has and urged everyone to watch out for them. “There are two young players within our side, that (who) are exceptional. One is a young batsman called Babar Azam, he made his Test debut in the UAE against West indies, he got some runs on debut and three ODI hundreds against the West Indies. He got a 90 in the first innings in Hamilton, in unbelievably trying circumstances. And you got to realise that this boy is coming from the sub-continent, when they see grass on the wicket, it is totally different from them.
“He is incredible, he is a young gun who is going to be an exceptional player and I will go so far as to say, at the same age I would reckon he is as good as Virat Kohli. I know that’s high praise, he is right up there,” he added.
Pakistan’s bowling unit has always been the high point on the CV and the coach was quick to point that out. He said, “And then, for the guys, to watch Yasir Shah, a legspinner, he’s been number one in the world, he is an incredible bowler. To watch Yasir Shah go about his business is incredible. Everyday, I go down to the nets, I am in awe watching him bowl legspin. He really is good.
“And then of course, on that wicket, bouncy green wicket at the Gabba, we have got Wahab Riaz, Mohammed Amir, who are as good as anybody going around.”
Arthur, who is credited for South Africa cricket’s upswing when he coached them from 2005-10, was full of praise for the Pakistan skipper, Misbah-ul-Haq, who will join the side after having missed the second Test against New Zealand.
“Misbah joins us now in Cairns. We arrive in Brisbane and we start up to Cairns. We do all our preparation working camps, got a D/N fixture against Cricket Australia there, Misbah will join us there in a couple of days. Misbah is unbelievable, he is the leader of the team, he is really good,” he said.
On Australia’s recent home series loss to South Africa, the South Africa born coach said, “I do watch. I see what’s happening. I see how it’s all going. You know Australia is an incredible cricket side (which is) going to bounce back. They have got so much talent, there’s so much talent in Australia that they just have to get it right and they will be good. We are expecting a a tough series.”