Mickey Arthur set to return as Pakistan coach, hints Sethi

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LAHORE: Despite Pakistan’s cricket board ruling it out earlier this month due to the South African’s contractual obligations with Derbyshire, Mickey Arthur’s appointment as head coach is still possible.

However, Pakistan Cricket Board interim management committee chairman Najam Sethi stated on Monday that he is still negotiating with Arthur to take over the position that will become vacant when Saqlain Mushtaq’s contract expires next month.

During a press conference held on Monday at the Gaddafi Stadium, Sethi stated, “I never closed Mickey Arthur’s chapter, and it hasn’t been closed so far as well,” and he also announced Haroon Rashid’s appointment as chief selector.

“I am personally negotiating with Mickey, and I believe that 90% of the distance has been covered. We hope to inform you very soon that Mickey will be joining us. However, at this time, it is not resolved, and there are still problems.

Sethi gave the impression that, if Arthur is ultimately appointed, he will have the authority to hire support staff of his choosing, and that the PCB will ensure that it can afford them. The board’s interim chief stated, “These issues will be resolved in the next two to three days.”

Before Sethi confirmed that he was in talks with the coach, rumors about Arthur’s appointment as the Pakistan head coach for a second stint had risen following Sethi’s return to the helm of the PCB after Ramiz Raja was ousted as the chairman in December of last year.

However, when the PCB stated in a statement that the option to hire Arthur either as a coach or “as a consultant to the PCB on a time-sharing basis with Derbyshire” was “proving difficult to materialise for various reasons on both sides,” those talks appeared to have broken down.

Pakistan rose to the top of the Twenty20 international rankings and won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 under Arthur’s direction from 2016 to 2019.

After Pakistan’s narrow exit from the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup in England, the 54-year-old felt out of favor. On a three-year contract, Arthur, who has also coached in Sri Lanka, Australia, and his home country of South Africa, is the head coach of Derbyshire.

Haroon Appointed Chief Selector

Arthur’s possible return to the Pakistani team will coincide with a fairly full international schedule for the team this year, including a tour to Australia and the 50-over World Cup in India.

Former Test player Haroon and the other members of the selection committee, who will be announced in due course, will be responsible for selecting the teams for the high-profile assignments.

Prior to being appointed chief selector, Haroon had been serving as one of the interim management committee members. However, he resigned from that position. Additionally, under former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, he served on the interim selection committee, which is now inactive.

This will not be the 69-year-old’s first time playing the role. In addition, he worked as the PCB’s director of cricket operations and was the chief selector from 2015 to 2016.

When Pakistan hosts New Zealand for five Twenty20 Internationals and as many one-day matches in April and May, a week after the conclusion of the eighth edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League, Haroon’s first task will be to select the squads.

Pakistan is scheduled to play two Tests in Sri Lanka in July and will also participate in the Asia Cup in September.

According to a PCB statement, Haroon said, “I will like to focus on improving communication as one of the key aspects I will like to focus on my time.” This is a very important part because the players need to know exactly why they were picked or not picked. This will help them get the results they want, work harder on their skills, and stay motivated.

Asia Cup Hosting

However, the Asia Cup’s fate has not yet been decided, and Pakistan’s position as tournament hosts is uncertain. Sethi stated that the PCB has persuaded the Asian Cricket Council to convene an emergency meeting in Bahrain on February 4 to resolve the issue.

After the Executive Committee of the ACC met in October 2021, the PCB was given the right to host the continental tournament. However, the PCB was upset when the body’s president Jay Shah said a year later that the tournament would be held at a neutral location because the Indian team couldn’t go to Pakistan.

Sethi stated, “There hadn’t been an Asian Cricket Council board meeting in a while, and there were all kinds of decisions being made, some of which we also challenged.” The good news is that we were successful in persuading ACC to hold a board meeting, which I will attend.

Sethi also said that Pakistan will play Afghanistan in a three-match Twenty20 International series in the United Arab Emirates a week after the PSL and before the New Zealand games.

He stated that while approval from the government was required, the series most likely will continue.

Regarding his dealings with the Afghanistan Cricket Board, Sethi stated, “We will share the profit [from the series]equally between us and will also divide the broadcast and other expenses.”

Sethi also expressed happiness about the demerit point that was revoked for the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium following Pakistan’s first Test against England in December.

 

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