Mickey Arthur disappointed at loss, but confident in long-term plans

An “extremely disappointed” Mickey Arthur admitted Pakistan weren’t quite replicating their T20 success at Test level, but was satisfied the team was moving in the right direction. On a day where Pakistan were bowled out for 273, sealing a 107-run win for South Africa as well as a clean sweep, the Pakistan coach reiterated he had a long-term plan that he was confident of bringing to fruition.
“We’ll go back and assess exactly where we want to be,” he said. “We start our next Test series in September, and everybody goes into white-ball mode now. We’re certainly a far better white-ball team at the minute than we are a Test unit but we’ll get there. We’ve realised the brand we want to play. We’ve had a look at personnel, at who’s going to fit in going forward. So I’m pretty clear on the way to go, and certainly come September, when the Test championship starts, we’ve certainly got a team that can play in all conditions, and we need to identify what those skill sets are.”
It was Pakistan’s batting failures in the first innings of each Test that set them on the back foot. In all three Tests, Pakistan scored between 177 and 185 in their first innings, opening up opportunities for South Africa to build sizeable leads and shut the door on Pakistan. Arthur acknowledged the frailties in the batting order had made things difficult, but paid rich tribute to an “outstanding” South African bowling attack.
“We had our moments and we didn’t take them. That’s disappointing, but saying that, South Africa were outstanding. Particularly their bowling. The bowling just kept coming and coming at us, and the one thing that was always going to be tested was our young batting group. A couple have come through nicely and a couple maybe not, but that was always going to be tested. As I said optimistically, if we were getting 270s and 280s, we were certainly in the game. With a 180s in all of our first innings, we weren’t in the game, unfortunately.
“I thought Babar Azam was outstanding. I think he’s taken his cricket to another level. The question marks that were always around Babar will certainly disappear now. I thought the way he’d played this series was amazing and he’ll just go from strength to strength now. I thought Shan Masood played exceptionally well at the top of the order and at three. Asad Shafiq played two innings that were significant and everybody else chipped in along the way. We didn’t get enough runs clearly, but saying that, the 430 at Newlands was probably just too many from a very good bowling unit. We’ve got some work to do particularly in these conditions.”
Masood’s performances were a rare beam of light for a Pakistan side that initially planned to line up this series without him. It was only after a knee injury to Haris Sohail on the morning of the opening Test that Masood came into the fray. The left-hander scored 228 in six innings – three at No. 3 and as many as an opener – and was Pakistan’s highest scorer in the series.