‘Have seen happier dressing rooms than Pakistan’s currently’ – Flower

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Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower admits he has “seen happier dressing rooms” than the one he finds himself in with the team right now. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo in the wake of Pakistan’s defeat inside three days at South Africa’s hands in Centurion, he also warned a lot of the players’ places would be under threat following a collapse that saw Pakistan cede a commanding position at tea on the second day to succumb to a tame six-wicket reverse.
“The atmosphere isn’t the best at the moment,” Flower said. “Not many losing teams’ atmosphere will be the best. No one likes to lose. You don’t want to become happy losers. I’m not involved in selection, but there are quite a few guys with their places under threat. It’s not just one or two batsmen, you could point fingers at a few players.”
Evidence of a breakdown in the morale of the camp further emerged following stumps on the second day, the one which oversaw a Pakistan collapse that all but put them out of the game, with a dressing room leak reporting coach Mickey Arthur had lost his temper with the players, in particular giving some of the batsmen an earful. Although the PCB later issued a statement denying Arthur so much as became angry, there is little doubt he did make his displeasure known, with Flower saying the real problem was the incident being leaked to the media.
“We don’t know who it is [the leaker]. But they’ve got to look at themselves in the mirror. It should never happen. On tour it’s all about teamwork, you’re supposed to be a family and trust each other. But I’ve been with the team over four years and there have been constant leaks all the time. It’s nothing new for me, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise.
“Mickey had some strong words with the players; there was quite a bit of honesty from him. I think the guys were a bit shell-shocked, but they’ve heard Mickey, everyone knows he can come down harshly on the boys at times. But sometimes that’s needed and the guys needed to be told a few home truths. Mickey won’t be the first or last coach to do that. If the guys do have strong character, they’ll bounce back from it and take that as a challenge.”
Much of Arthur’s wrath, ESPNcricinfo understands, was directed at the more experienced middle-order batsmen in the camp. Despite Pakistan’s perceived batting weakness lying at the top of the order, Imam-ul-Haq and Shan Masood had manged to give their side a solid foundation by tea, with the score reading 100 for 1. And in a session where the middle order might have built on the start and given South Africa a daunting fourth innings target, a string of poor shots saw the visitors lose nine wickets in the session, bowled out by stumps.
Arthur’s mood had not improved by the following morning, and when Dean Elgar seemed to be dismissed in the slips by Azhar Ali, the third umpire overturned the soft signal of out to give him a reprieve that saw him score a half-century and kill off any Pakistan hopes. Arthur went to the third umpire to remonstrate, earning him a demerit point in the process, but Flower found himself in agreement with the coach.
“In my opinion, it was the wrong decision. And the on-field umpire gave that out. And there was no conclusive evidence otherwise, so he should have upheld that decision.”