The former South African has been elected by the Pakistan cricket team as their head coach © Getty Images
The former South African has been elected by the Pakistan cricket team as their head coach © Getty Images

After a lot of speculation among fans and the media, the PCB has finally made an official announcement regarding the appointment of the new Pakistan head coach. South Africa’s Mickey Arthur has grabbed the top position and will commence his tenure with Pakistan in the upcoming tour of England in July. He will get on board with the team by the end of May. Pakistan is scheduled to play four Tests, five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and a solitary Twenty 20 International (T20I) in their series which will kick off from July 14. The national team has been trying hard to make a mark again in the international arena as they have been struggling for a while, particularly in the limited-overs formats. PCB will hope to revive Pakistan’s fortunes under the experienced Arthur, who has earlier also served as coach of the South African and Australian cricket teams. READ: Mickey Arthur appointed Pakistan’s head coach

According to the PCB website, a panel comprising of former players like Wasim Akram, Ramiz Raja, and Faisal Mirza received and reviewed applications, and also forwarded four recommendations to the board to make a final decision on the position. After further discussions, 47-year-old Arthur on Friday accepted the unenviable job of coaching Pakistan. There were other names like Dean Jones and Andy Moles, who were also contenders for the top job, but it went to the former South African. Earlier, PCB had showed interest in appointing Stuart Law, who was the consultant of the side, to take over from Waqar Younis, but he declined.

Pakistan has been struggling before the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 but their graph has slipped further this year owing to some shabby performances in the Asia Cup 2016 and ICC World T20 2016. Under Shahid Afridi’s captaincy, the team proved to be incompetent in T20I cricket as they failed to reach the playoffs of either the Asia Cup or World T20. They lost to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup and failed to beat any quality side from their group in the World T20. To worsen things, reports of a rift between the skipper and coach, Waqar Younis, also made headlines.

On the other hand, Arthur played 110 First-Class games between 1987 and 2001 before taking over as the head coach of the South African national side in 2005. He made a good combination with then-captain Greame Smith, leading South Africa to various Test honors, including a series win in England after 43 years. He was also the coach of Australia for a brief period, but with considerably less success.

Looking at his two coaching stints so far, one wonders just how effective he will be with a team as mercurial as Pakistan. With South Africa, Arthur was among people from his own country. The mutual understanding and respect between captain and coach overflowed to the rest of the team which resulted in great success. However, with Australia Arthur was always looked at as the outsider. He did not have the same relationship with the captain Michael Clarke and as a result he lacked the respect of the team. The infamous homework-gate incident only increased the rift between him and the players.

While the Arthur vs Australia rift was nowhere near as volatile as it was with Greg Chappell and India, there is no doubting the fact that while Arthur has the technical know-how to be a good coach his man-management skills may not be the best. That being said, it is likely that Arthur has learned from his mistakes with Australia and will be more patient with maverick players — of which Pakistan have many. Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, two fine batsmen who have traditionally had problems with authority, will be particular challenges for Arthur. If he can crack them, he will be able to earn the respect of the other players. The board, though, is a different matter. PCB have not had a good record of getting along with their coaches, so Arthur will have a lot on his plate when he takes office at the end of the month. Interesting times lie ahead for the struggling Pakistan team.

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry.)