KARACHI: While insisting that the role of coaches in modern-day cricket has become ever-more significant, former Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat on Saturday said Mickey Arthur wants him to work as bowling coach of the national team.

“With the advent of Twenty20 games in addition to Tests and ODIs, cricket is rapidly becoming a fast-paced game due to which [several] players are facing significant injury problems. In this situation, player support staff’s role, particularly that of a head coach or a skill coach, becomes far more important,” Yasir told Dawn from England in an exclusive chat.

“A coach has to build a trust-based relationship with players which can facilitate players to share all their thoughts with their coach and vice versa. Sometimes, players out of fear of getting dropped from the team hide their injuries and feature in competitive matches which in the end damage the players as well as the team.

“Furthermore, a good coach backs his players when they face problem of fitness or form because they [already] endure the pressure to perform,” the 40-year-old added.

According to recent media reports, Yasir has been proposed by South Africa-born Arthur — who worked as Pakistan head coach from 2016-19 — for a coaching role under him for the national side. When asked about the matter, the all-rounder specified.

“Yes, Arthur and I had a conversation [recently]. He wants me to work particularly as the bowling coach in the support staff team he is planning to form for Pakistan,” the Rawalpindi-born Yasir said.

“Some reports indicating I have been offered the role [by Arthur] of assistant coach during his absence in Pakistan are not correct. In this regard, [so far] I have not be­en in contact with the Pakistan Cricket Board,” he added.

The England-based Yasir, who represented Pakistan on and off in a very few games between 2000 and 2012 and recently completed the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Level-4 coaching course, threw light on his coaching exploits.

“After ending my first-class playing career [in county cricket] in 2016, I straightaway joined coaching and completed the ECB Level-3 coaching course after which I got a job in a college where I am still engaged,” he said.

“In addition to this, I acted as the bowling consultant of Hong Kong’s national team, worked for [Big Bash team] Perth Scorchers Surrey, Warwickshire and Sussex counties as their bowling consultant.

“In the meantime, I completed the ECB Level-4 course in two-and-a-half years time, which has enhanced my coaching skills,” Yasir remarked.

On how a Level-4 coach could benefit his players, the former cricketer said the qualification enables an instructor to work on a much wider spectrum.

“The Level-4 coaching programme not only equips a coach to develop [playing] skills of his charges, but also helps him know and understand other aspects of modern-day coaching like biomechanics, strength and conditioning, psychology and nutrition which are applied in all top-class coaching systems around the world,” he said.

Responding to a question on whether a player without significant experience of international cricket can handle coaching, Yasir, who during his 20-year career played in all three formats at different levels in Pakistan, England, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh, sounded philosophical.

“Playing and coaching are totally different tasks. As a player, one has to take care of his own performance and fitness whereas a coach being part of a support staff has to devise and implement plans, and look after players of various age groups in different circumstances. At junior level, the main task is to develop techniques while for senior level the focus is on managing players in order to keep them in their comfort zone.”

Replying to a question on how England during the past six, seven years have managed to reach the top, Yasir said the base of the country’s cricketing system is strong.

“I played club and county cricket in England for 15, 20 years. During this time, the best thing which I have observed about them is that they plan ahead for their team while keeping in mind the next five, ten years,” he noted.

“England introduced new coaching staff and completely changed players’ mindset after their disastrous campaign at the 2015 World Cup. Bringing in [Australian] Trevor Bayliss as coach and the unconventional captain like Eoin Morgan under whom England played attacking cricket and finally clinched their maiden World Cup title in 2019, made the difference.

“Moreover, England’s pathway cricket is very well organised and keeps their players engaged for longer time periods which has helped them develop a strong and prepared bench strength.”

Commenting on why Pakistan could not win even a single home Test out of eight during the last year or so, Yasir reckoned better pitches and precise team selection could have helped the hosts.

“Fast bowling remains our main strength. Had the pitches been helpful for pacers, Pakistan could have been more competitive, particularly against England who continued with their novel ‘Bazball’ mode,” he said.

“Moreover, slightly more accurate selection of the playing XI while keeping in view the specific conditions might also have given Pakistan the edge.”

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023

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