Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur says he is “extremely disappointed” by the 3-0 Test series loss to South Africa, admitting that his side’s red-ball skills remain a work in progress in comparison to their success in the limited-overs formats.
Speaking after the 107-run loss in Johannesburg, Arthur told reporters that despite suffering a second consecutive series defeat – the whitewash at the hands of the Proteas was preceded by a 2-1 series defeat to New Zealand in the UAE – his vision for the side going forward remains clear.
“We’ll go back and assess exactly where we want to be,” said Arthur. “We start our next Test series in September, and everybody goes into white-ball mode now. We’re certainly a far better white-ball team at the minute than we are a Test unit but we’ll get there.
“We’ve realised the brand we want to play. We’ve had a look at personnel, at who’s going to fit in going forward. So I’m pretty clear on the way to go, and certainly come September, when the Test championship starts, we’ve certainly got a team that can play in all conditions, and we need to identify what those skill sets are.”
Arthur gave particular credit to the way the South African bowling attack performed during the series, and added that his team had a lot to work on with the short ball before their tour of Australia in October.
“We had our moments and we didn’t take them. That’s disappointing, but saying that, South Africa were outstanding. Particularly their bowling. The bowling just kept coming and coming at us, and the one thing that was always going to be tested was our young batting group.
“Outside of our own conditions, we’ve got to find players with a skill-set to manage the bouncing ball going forward. We play Sri Lanka in the UAE in September, and then we play Australia in Australia straight after that. So we have to have our skillset perfect to manage the bouncing ball by the time we get there. We’ll get our Test batsmen into Australia three or four weeks before the games start.”
Despite Pakistan’s struggles with the bat across the three Tests – their highest score in the series was the second-innings total of 294 in Cape Town – Arthur talked up the performances of Babar Azam and Shan Masood, the former coming in for some special praise in particular.
“I thought Babar Azam was outstanding. I think he’s taken his cricket to another level. The question marks that were always around Babar will certainly disappear now. I thought the way he’d played this series was amazing and he’ll just go from strength to strength now.
“I thought Shan Masood played exceptionally well at the top of the order and at three. Asad Shafiq played two innings that were significant and everybody else chipped in along the way. We didn’t get enough runs clearly, but saying that, the 430 at Newlands was probably just too many from a very good bowling unit. We’ve got some work to do particularly in these conditions.”
Despite expressing his disappointment at the series result, Arthur praised the work ethic of his team. “We’ve got some pretty high standards in the Pakistan cricket team and clearly we hate losing so 3-0 doesn’t sit well,” added Arthur.
“It certainly doesn’t sit well with me, and it doesn’t sit well with the dressing room. I can’t however, fault attitude, and I can’t ever fault work ethic. The boys have worked incredibly hard on all their skills, they have been fantastic. They’ve tried as hard as can be throughout this Test series, so from that sense, I’m proud of them. The other sense, we have standards, we can never accept losing a Test series.”