Arthur preaches off-time fitness to players

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur revealed national team players came back in a worse state both technically and physically from the five-week break before the New Zealand limited-overs tour.

Arthur, while talking to ESPNcricinfo, said he is fine with the idea of players earning some extra bucks from T20 leagues, but it should not be done at the expense of Pakistan.

“I saw that players returned in a far worse state, physically and technically, when they were away from us for five weeks,” Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. “Of course I want our players to make more money, so I will be reasonable with our management plan. But some players came back far worse from T20 competitions in all departments. It’s just so important to manage the players individually because each case is different.”

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Citing the example of world’s top ODI bowler Hasan Ali, Arthur clarified that players need conditioning camps to stay technically and physically sound, which was not the case with the right-arm pacer.

Hasan was able to bag only six wickets in the series in 33.5 overs conceding 217 runs, while Boult bagged his second-best figures of his career in the series with a nine wickets in four games, including a five-for in the third ODI.

“I want a conditioning window and a technical window outside of the series to improve our players in all departments,” said Arthur. “It’s hard to do it in the middle of a series. The example I used was Hasan who played all competitions after Champions Trophy, while [New Zealand’s frontline pacer Trent] Boult had a three-month conditioning process. We see the difference in terms of freshness and performance.”

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He continued by clarifying team’s focus on the upcoming 50-over World Cup next year. “I want us to manage our players according to what we think their needs are. The players we think are going to play in the World Cup have to be in optimum condition for it, even if it means resting players for games and series.”

Before the New Zealand tour, Pakistan last played a series against Sri Lanka in the UAE which ended in October and since then the players participated in different competitions such as the Bangladesh Premier League, the T10 Cricket League and in the Big Bash League.

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Arthur argued in favour of players participating in matches, outside of playing for the national teams, but he insisted that the players need to stay fit if they are given time off.

“My concern is the players need to be working hard off the field in terms of fitness during all these competitions, not coming back in worse shape,” said Arthur. “I want them to make money but not at the expense of performance for Pakistan.”

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