Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s coach, said that he would need to “dish out a couple of hidings tonight”, as he rued the inconsistency in his young team that allowed England to bounce back from a humbling defeat at Lord’s to square the series in some style at Headingley, reported Cricinfo.
Arthur, who was also at the helm when Pakistan drew their last Test series in England, 2-2 in 2016, said that his players were “gutted” to have been rolled aside inside three days, but said that a setback such as this could be instrumental in helping them grow as a side, so long as the right lessons are learned.
“I am incredibly disappointed to be brutally honest,” Arthur told Sky Sports. “It was a poor display from us, coming off the back of such a high at Lord’s. It’s all about trying to get this consistency right and trying to get us playing in the right style and manner, so I’m incredibly disappointed with what we’ve dished up here.
“We’ll talk about it and have a hard discussion right now but as long as that dressing room has learned from it, it’s a young team and we can grow, and grow quicker.”
Only four players remain from the side that toured in 2016, and Arthur admitted that his current team had not been able to replicate the levels of consistency that they were able to generate, especially in the absence of such proven performers as Younis Khan, Yasir Shah and the then-captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
“The guys are feeling what it’s like to play tough Test cricket over an extended period, a lot of guys haven’t done that before,” he said. “But our expectation is more, it’s better than that. They will take it on the chin tonight, and they will hopefully grow and learn from it.”
In particular, Arthur bemoaned Pakistan’s batting in this contest, particularly on the first day, when they slumped to 174 all out having won what could have been a useful toss.
“Inconsistency is something that comes with a young team, however hard that is to take at the moment for all of us,” he said. “[At Lord’s] they were patient, they committed to defence, committed to attack and showed good intent.
“We got the balance wrong here. We weren’t as disciplined, we weren’t as patient in this first innings especially. There was always going to be something in the wicket but we had to get through a session and a half there because the sun came out and it became really good batting conditions late in the day .
“If we had got ourselves a big score we could have put them under some pressure but we could never do that at 180 [all out]. The key thing is that a number of batsmen got starts and no one got a hundred. For us to grow as a team, we need someone in top six get hundreds consistently.”
Another critical lapse in Pakistan’s hitherto high standards came late on the second day at Headingley, when Jos Buttler was dropped on 4 at short midwicket by Hasan Ali, off the bowling of the legspinner Shadab Khan. Buttler went on to blaze a decisive 80 not out from 101 balls, extending England’s lead to an insuperable 189.
“It was a massive chance, massive in the way the game panned out,” said Arthur. “We knew in the moment it went down it had the potential to be big, and it was. Shadab had bowled a really good spell up to that point so that would have capped it off really nicely, in terms of him confirming he belongs at this level.
“But that happens. No one drops them on purpose. On the whole we fielded well, we caught well, we’ve done a hell of a lot right in this series. We’re just disappointed at the eventual outcome.
“We need to dish out a couple of hidings tonight, but that’s how they’ll grow. I can’t fault effort, the way the boys worked. They are hungry, they want to do well for Pakistan, most of these young players have advance their cause, and it confirmed to us we are on the right track.
“I think to be honest, most of these boys have advanced. The talent in that dressing room is phenomenal, we’ve just got to get that consistency back and that’s what we strive for as a coaching team.”