Mickey Arthur says winning the Champions Trophy as coach of the Pakistan team was the best three weeks in his cricketing career, but it’s time to get back to work.
Pakistan, ranked eighth in the eight-team Champions Trophy, stunned the cricketing world when it thrashed defending champion India in the final in June.
“To go from absolute darkness to winning it … is the best three weeks of my cricketing career,” Arthur told reporters in Lahore on Thursday.
“The players deserved everything they’ve got after the Champions Trophy because it was a phenomenal achievement by all of them,” Arthur said.
Pakistan lost its first match at the tournament to India.
“I’m so proud of the way they fought back. Their commitment, their work ethic everything was outstanding, but it’s finished now, it’s gone, that’s done,” Arthur said.
Pakistan has a long break and its next international action is to host Sri Lanka in October in the United Arab Emirates.
The Pakistan Cricket Board has planned a training camp for the players, starting in Lahore from Aug. 22, and Arthur said players’ fitness was a key factor.
“That (Champions Trophy victory) was just the start of the journey, we’ve got to keep pushing to keep getting better and better and that we’ll only do with real hard work,” he said.
“There’s not going to be any hangover from the Champions Trophy, I can assure you that.” The PCB has appointed its limited overs captain Sarfraz Ahmed to lead in test matches as well with the international retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan after the series against the West Indies, which ended in May.
Arthur said players like Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam can fill any gaps in the middle order.
“We’ve got enough young players with the likes of Asad Shafiq … to step up now and fill the shoes of Misbah and Younis,” Arthur said.
Arthur was impressed with the progression of fast bowler Hasan Ali, who was named player of the tournament in the Champions Trophy, and opening batsman Fakhar Zaman.
That in turn sparked healthy internal competition for team places.
“There’s no player in our system or in our structure that can just rest on their laurels,” Arthur said without naming any player.
“What we always wanted to do is to achieve depth and to achieve depth in every department, and we are slowly but surely getting to that position now which is great.”
The PCB recently excluded Umar Akmal from the list of centrally contracted players. The batsman failed a fitness test prior to the Champions Trophy and was flown back home.
Akmal didn’t attend a high performance camp in Lahore and flew to England, saying he’s working on his rehabilitation.
“Umar Akmal failed several fitness tests, what do you want us to do?” Arthur said.
“I would have thought if you’ve failed one or two (fitness tests) you would never put yourself in that position again. Well he’s had several opportunities and hasn’t passed one so that’s up to him. “