The PCB has decided to extend the contracts of batting coach Grant Flower and fitness trainer Grant Luden, on the advice of head coach Mickey Arthur. Both Flower and Luden had signed two-year contracts, starting July 2014, and are on three-month extended contracts already. The PCB told ESPNcricinfo that the contracts will be further extended for one more year.
There was a possibility of Arthur suggesting a new coaching staff but he endorsed the duo and also brought in a new fielding coach in Steve Rixon from Australia. The entire coaching staff now has one-year contracts other than Azhar Mehmood who will join the Pakistan team as bowling coach only for the limited-overs leg of the England tour. Arthur’s own contract is for one year with a one-year extension subject to performances.
Pakistan’s batting had been one of their major weaknesses earlier and the PCB had turned to former captains Inzamam-ul-Haq, Javed Miandad and Zaheer Abbas to bring about improvements. With Flower’s appointment, Pakistan witnessed considerable improvements in their batsmen. Pakistan’s average runs per wicket was just 28.89 between January 2012 and February 2014. Since Flower’s appointment in July 2014, it rose to 43.82. Under him, Pakistan batsmen have converted 48.43% of half-centuries into centuries – 31 hundreds out of 64 50-plus scores – which is the most among all teams by a distance. South Africa and Australia are next with under 41% conversions.
Pakistan had their highest successful Test chase last year in Pallekele when they scored 382 – the sixth-highest successful chase in Tests. Pakistan’s No. 6 have averaged 61 in Tests since July 2014, which is way higher than any other team’s No. 6. Under Flower, Pakistan’s fourth innings average is also the highest among all teams.
With Luden in the staff, Pakistan developed an imposing fitness criteria that helped players raise their fitness levels. However, he has been stripped off from his additional responsibility of being the fielding coach with Rixon coming in. Mushtaq Ahmed is travelling with the team as a makeshift bowling coach only for the Tests in England.