Mickey Arthur recalls spat with Wahab Riaz, working with frustrating Umar Akmal

The 51-year-old opened up about his three-year tenure as in charge of the Men in Green

Mickey Arthur recalls spat with Wahab Riaz, working with frustrating Umar Akmal PHOTO: AFP

Mickey Arthur’s contract as the Pakistan team’s head coach was not renewed after the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup, thus bringing an end to his three-year tenure.

The South African, in his recent interview with the Pinch Hitter magazine, has shared the ups and down of his time as in charge of the Men in Green and how he dealt with certain individuals in the side.

Arthur first opened up about his complicated relation with the controversial batsman Umar Akmal and believes the 29-year-old has failed to reach his potential due to lack of proper guidance.

"It’s definitely too late for him [Umar Akmal] now," said Arthur. "It’s sad because he is a likeable enough bloke but what he needed was a real firm hand at the start of his career to guide him properly. I don’t think he got the right messages earlier in his career because if he had, he wouldn’t have gone down the route he has chosen to. He was frustrating to work with."

"He has all the talent in the world but has wasted it and, unfortunately, he will now go down in history as one Pakistan player who has underachieved," he added.

Wahab Riaz was another player who Arthur felt wasn’t bowling to his potential, which led him to confront the left-arm pacer.

"I had one notable spat with Wahab Riaz, and we spoke openly about it as well. I felt Wahab had so much ability and potential and at the point we left him out of the side, he wasn’t just fulfilling that potential," he said. "I was really tough on him, but I was tough on him for good reasons. That was because I cared, and I wanted him to be the best he could be. When Wahab did come back in to the team, he came back fitter, stronger and faster and with a new focus. I just hope that he learnt that lesson and still has a lot in the tank because Wahab has unbelievable ability."

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Arthur also takes special pride in the development of Babar Azam as one of best batsmen in the world.

"I believe Babar is in the top five batsmen in the world in all forms of the game," he said. "We saw talent and potential in him in his early days and I know that we used to get so much flak for playing Babar in Test matches when people would say that he wasn’t ready. But that was my one non-negotiable condition that Babar had to play every game for Pakistan. This was because I could see how good this guy was and I knew that if we invested in him, he would reward Pakistan cricket’s faith in him down the line which, I am glad to say, is coming to fruition now."

"I feel that he needed that game-time to develop, particularly in red-ball cricket. This is because white-ball cricket is a relatively easier game to play but it’s Test cricket where your skills are tested on tough wickets. We needed him to go through those trials and tribulations early in his career to allow him to get to where is now," he added.