‘Skill levels are great, fitness is poor’


New Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has no intention of becoming a relaxed and hands-off leader, and says he and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq will combine personalities to get the best out of the team.

Arthur has often been criticised for being to rigid in his methods, most notably when he gave the Australia players 'homework' in 2013, but he feels Pakistan's players need that structure and discipline.

He also thinks that while Pakistan have some of the most talented players in the world, they have very poor fitness and discipline levels, and with Misbah's help, he's determined to rectify that ahead of the tour to England.

Arthur said on Cricinfo: "The skill levels the Pakistan team have are unbelievable. But, having coached against Pakistan, and watched Pakistan for ages, good has been unbelievable and bad has been very poor.

"For me I'm trying to make sure the good and bad get a lot closer together, so that we get more consistency.

"Other teams have fitness levels, structures and self-disciplines in knowing their own game, so I'm trying to get patience into the skills.

"Mohammad Amir, and Sohail Khan, they like to bowl outswinger, outswinger, inswinger – so I just want them to hold those lines a little bit longer. The patience isn't what other teams are, but skill levels are higher."

The South African added that he would not tolerate below par efforts, and that he wanted to cultivate an environment of excellence and pride in their achievements.

He added: "What we do is just give structure. We try to make sure every guy is totally aware of his role, and contrary to what's been written, I'm very personable in terms of working with the players.

"We want to cultivate a culture of greatness, we want everything to be done at best practice, and at the highest level. And that, for me as a coach, is the non-negotiable.

"When you are coaching internationally, you have to do the best things more often. You have to have an environment which is one of excellence. An environment that's mediocre means mediocre results.

"We push the players to make sure they are in the best possible space to execute their skills, which are outstanding."

As for the skipper, he explained that while Arthur would be doing the hard work with the players off the field, Misbah would be reinforcing that in the middle, in order to maintain stability.

Misbah said: "Mickey will work more on discipline in our training sessions and fitness. That is the key if you want to perform consistently.

"When it comes to stability on the ground, it's my job to look after the players and the team. These are the two key factors in our performance. If you want to perform consistently, without discipline and stability it is impossible."