Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said he had been spoken to by the team’s chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and PCB chairman Ehsan Mani before Sarfaraz Ahmed was confirmed as the team’s captain for this year’s World Cup.
There were questions raised over Sarfaraz’s leadership after he was slapped with a four-match ban by the ICC over remarks directed towards South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo during an ODI, but PCB confirmed that he would continue to captain the side for the World Cup which kicks off in England in May.
Arthur said the special announcement was made in order to put an end to ‘speculation’ about the matter. “We’ve made that decision because we are very comfortable with Sarfaraz leading this team forward,” Arthur said in Lahore. “There’s clarity, there’s no more speculation.”
“The reality is that the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me as a person and professional, but I am delighted that the PCB has reassured its confidence and faith in me."
ICYMI: Sarfaraz Ahmed will lead Pakistan at this summer's World Cup. https://t.co/IA208jS3FN
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) February 5, 2019
“What he did was wrong and it was worked through,” Arthur said. “Saffy took it on the chin, he apologised, he moved forward, everything was handled properly.”
Sarfaraz has also endured a tough period with the bat, but Arthur isn’t worried about that because he feels that Sarfaraz is performing well in his core duty of wicket-keeping.
“He (Sarfaraz) has dropped eight balls in four and a half months, so he is not out of form in his core job,” Arthur said. “I’m not, and I want to reiterate, not worried about Sarfaraz Ahmed’s (batting) form.”
The coach is of the opinion that Pakistan are on track with their World Cup preparations, and says their limited-overs series against Australia in UAE in March will allow them to zero in on a final squad to take to England.
"Whisper it quietly, but Pakistan – the most unpredictable team in world cricket – have a side more than capable of winning the World Cup."https://t.co/zrlFlYF6g4
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) February 6, 2019
“We’re probably ahead of lot of other teams … we have condensed our pool and now have to finalise it after the Australia tour (in March), so we are pretty much on track.”
Arthur wasn’t pleased with how Pakistan performed on their South Africa tour suffering a whitewash in the three Tests, and then losing the limited-overs series too, but there were some positives, most notably Babar Azam‘s form with the bat.
“South Africa is the toughest place to bat … to see Babar Azam’s development across all formats on this tour was simply amazing and I think was something to be proud,” he said.