KOLKATA: Despite facing criticism for his leadership during Pakistan’s group-stage exit from the ICC World Cup 2023, captain Babar Azam has received support from team director Mickey Arthur, who advocates for him to retain the role.
Following the team’s fifth-place finish in the 10-nation table, missing out on a semi-final spot for the second consecutive World Cup, Arthur defended Azam during a post-match conference. “Babar Azam is very, very close to me,” Arthur expressed. “He’s a young guy that needs to be taken on the journey. He needs to be shown the ropes. He’s still learning all the time and is growing.”
Arthur also highlighted the significant setback caused by the injury-enforced absence of key bowler Naseem Shah on the eve of the World Cup, asserting that the team never fully recovered. “Our game needs to go to another level. I think we missed Naseem Shah. But if you get Naseem Shah, our bowling attack’s good,” he said.
The batting performance also came under scrutiny, with no Pakistani batsman making it into the top 10 run-scorers at the tournament. Arthur emphasized the need for the team to consistently score 330-350 runs, stating, “We do that when Fakhar Zaman comes off, and we can’t just be relying on one-on-one players.”
Reflecting on the campaign that brought four wins and five losses, Arthur expressed his readiness to face the outcome. “Look, I’ll just go back to the Peak District in Derbyshire, I’ll be really happy, and that’ll be okay,” he said. Arthur acknowledged the criticism of his coaching arrangement, defending his commitment to both the Pakistan team and Derbyshire.
Despite the disappointing finish, Arthur accepted that Pakistan did not perform well enough. “Inconsistency, unfortunately, doesn’t breed success. But that is no excuse at all,” he stated. As Pakistan exits the competition, New Zealand is set to face undefeated India in the first semi-final in Mumbai on November 15, while Australia will take on South Africa in the second semi-final in Kolkata a day later.