Mickey Arthur will not coach Pakistan after talks with PCB fail

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Mickey Arthur will not be returning to Pakistan cricket, after talks with the PCB failed to find a way to make any arrangement work. The PCB had been in discussions with Arthur for a new stint as head coach over the last few weeks. But the PCB announced on Tuesday that Arthur’s long-term contract with Derbyshire meant he couldn’t take the head coach role right away. Both sides had conversations over a looser, consultancy role but the PCB said that proved “difficult to materialise for various reasons on both sides.”

The PCB said they would continue their search for a coach to replace the incumbent Saqlain Mushtaq, whose contract runs out at the end of February. Saqlain has been coach of the side since September 2021 and has seen Pakistan reach the semi-finals and then final of two successive T20 World Cups. But a poor home season, especially in Tests, has increased scrutiny on his impact. With a new board regime in charge under Najam Sethi and keen to stamp their authority on the team, Saqlain’s time is effectively up.

An Arthur return would’ve been a popular one, at least within the team where a number of current players blossomed during his first stint from 2016 to 2019. It was Arthur’s faith in and work with current captain Babar Azam that proved instrumental in his subsequent rise. A number of other key players, including Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed all flourished during Arthur’s tenure. Under his charge Pakistan won the 2017 Champions Trophy and also reached the No. 1 position on ICC’s T20I rankings; in the first Test series he took charge in, Pakistan became the top-ranked Test side as well (though much of the work to that rise had occurred before he took over).

But he was replaced by Misbah-ul-Haq, who had been captain under Arthur’s coaching, after Pakistan’s fifth-place finish at the 2019 ODI World Cup. They narrowly failed to make the semi-finals, despite a stirring turnaround after a heavy early loss.

On December 27, ESPNcricinfo reported that Sethi, in effect the head of the current administration was in talks with Arthur over returning to his previous job. Arthur was previously coach during Sethi’s previous stint. Both sides, it is believed, tried hard to find a way through especially with a consultancy role, with a schedule drawn out as to how such a role might work around Arthur’s four-year deal with Derbyshire.

The PCB said that “some top names are in consideration” as they continue their search.

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