Weeks after his bizarre claim that the World Cup 2023 has seemed more like a “BCCI event instead of ICC” after Pakistan’s loss against India in Ahmedabad, the team’s director of cricket on Friday raised a few eyebrows with another remark, ahead of their do-or-die game against New Zealand in Bengaluru, saying that the beefed-up security which has confined the players to their hotel rooms has been among the reasons behind their poor performance in India.
Pakistan have their World Cup campaign hanging by a thread after losing four of their last five matches to stand sixth in the points table. The run had included a four-match losing streak, a first of its kind for Pakistan in a World Cup edition, before they snapped the run with a win against Bangladesh. Although not significantly enough, but the win in Kolkata did breathe life into Pakistan’s hopes of making the semis and with second straight win on Saturday at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Babar Azam and his men could likely see themselves making the knockouts against an injury-laden New Zealand side.
On the eve of the big contest, Arthur blamed the “stifling” security in India, which reminded him of the Covid era, for affecting the mental health of the Pakistan players. He said: “What has been tough is the fact that we’ve been under a massive amount of security. And to be fair, I found it difficult. It’s almost like we’ve been back in the COVID times when you were almost secluded to your floor and your team room.
“So much so that their breakfast is in a separate room to everybody else. Our boys are used to being on the road. But when they’re on the road, they’ve still been able to get out and have meals at different places, and get out on their own accord, and we haven’t been able to do this time. That’s been tough and stifling,” he added.
The team director further revealed that the Pakistan players have resorted to leisure activities in the hotel rooms rather spending the time outside on non-training days.
“It’s like Groundhog Day. You have breakfast and if it’s a non-training day, you’re back to your room. We’ve tried to have sort of little fun team events within our team room. But there’s only so much you can recreate.
“I think the guys have been out three times – we’ve managed to do that with security, get them out to a different restaurant, just to give them a little bit of a taste of the outside world.”
Arthur also blamed Pakistan players’ non-participation in Indian Premier League (IPL) has been a disadvantage for them compared to other teams. Pakistan cricketers were allowed to be part of the IPL in only the inaugural season before political tensions between the two countries led to players no longer being part of the league from 2009 onwards.
In the pre-match presser in Bengaluru, Arthur was asked if it was a disadvantage for the players, and he agreed to it although admitting that he won’t be making any excuses about it.
“No excuse, but it has been. And the interesting thing has been that every ground we’ve been to has been a new venue for our players, which is exciting. The players have really embraced that and they’ve enjoyed that fact because they’ve watched IPL on TV and they’ve seen test matches at iconic grounds like Eden Gardens, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai. So, for them to play it, it’s been really exciting for them,” Arthur said.