Sarfraz Ahmed’s workload as captain across formats not a concern: Mickey Arthur
"I can’t speak more highly of the job he does as captain of Pakistan’s cricket teams."

Pakistan’s coach Mickey Arthur has rejected criticism of Sarfraz Ahmed being weighed down by the captaincy across formats as his batting form continues to be a middling affair in 2018, while denying any bad blood between him and the captain.

Sarfraz, 31, has scored 882 runs in 39 international innings this year at an average of 28.45 with five fifties while keeping wickets in each game. In 11 Test match innings, he has 284 runs at 28.40 with both of his fifties this year coming in the win over Australia in Abu Dhabi last month, efforts which Sarfraz himself termed were immensely reassuring against calls for him to step aside.

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In 14 ODI innings, he averages 24.40 with two fifties while in T20Is his numbers improve to 32.18 at a strike-rate of 145.08 from 14 innings. In 2018, Pakistan have won four of seven Test matches, losing two and drawing one against Australia, and in ODIs their record is eight wins from 17 completed games which includes losing all five games in New Zealand at the start of the year. In T20Is, however, they are ranked No 1 and have 17 wins from 19 games this year.

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Arthur, who has been with the Pakistan team since 2016, put faith in Sarfraz to keep doing the job a day after the team beat New Zealand by an innings and 16 runs in Abu Dhabi to level the three-match Test series at 1-1.

Under Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup
Under Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan failed to reach the final of the Asia Cup. @AFP

“I can’t speak more highly of Sarfaraz,” the 50-year-old told pakpassion.net. “There have been some media reports about issues between Sarfaraz and myself and I can tell you that we have an unbelievably good relationship. I can’t speak more highly of the job he does as captain of Pakistan’s cricket teams. We know our roles very well and we work very well together and we both have the same vision and direction of where we want to take this cricket team.”

There have reportedly been difference between the Pakistan captain and coach. After Pakistan collapsed in a heap in the fourth innings of the Dubai Test to lose to New Zealand by four runs, Arthur spoke of the need for a sports psychologist to work with the team to help them overcome pressure situations. To this, Sarfraz said that he was not sure how it would help.

Pakistan batting great Zaheer Abbas commented after the Dubai defeat that Sarfraz should give up the captaincy in at least one format, citing immense pressure as a factor. The head of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s cricket committee Mohsin Khan recently said that the captaincy across the three formats is taking a physical toll on Sarfraz and advocated him to be relieved from leadership duties in Tests.

Arthur, however, underlined the importance of Sarfraz to the Pakistan team.

“To give you an example of Sarfaraz’s commitment, recently we had optional net practice before the current Test series and he was out there hitting balls,” he said. “To me, that shows his dedication, professionalism and desire to succeed for his job and for his country. As long as Sarfaraz is showing that kind of attitude, we certainly won’t rest him.”