CAPE TOWN – Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower says that the players are currently feeling their first Test defeat to South Africa, but has called for unity amongst the squad.
Pakistan succumbed to a six-wicket defeat in the first bout against the Proteas in Centurion, and the dampened vibe amongst the players is something that Flower expects.
"The atmosphere isn't the best at the moment," Flower told the ESPN Cricinfo website. "Not many losing teams' atmosphere will be the best. No one likes to lose. You don't want to become happy losers.
"I'm not involved in selection, but there are quite a few guys with their places under threat. It's not just one or two batsmen, you could point fingers at a few players.
"Mickey [Arthur] had some strong words with the players; there was quite a bit of honesty from him. I think the guys were a bit shell-shocked, but they've heard Mickey, everyone knows he can come down harshly on the boys at times.
"But sometimes that's needed and the guys needed to be told a few home truths. Mickey won't be the first or last coach to do that. If the guys do have strong character, they'll bounce back from it and take that as a challenge."
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed's form has also been put in the spotlight of late, and having recorded a pair in the Test just gone, questions regarding his workload as captain were answered partially by Flower.
"Anyone would agree that being a captain, batsman and wicketkeeper is probably the hardest job in cricket," Flower said. "And probably too hard. I'm sure it would help his batting if he didn't have the captaincy pressure, but that's how it is at the moment.
"If that's going to continue, then he has to find a way of coping with those pressures technically and mentally."
Sarfraz was not the only player to struggle in the first match, as a tricky pitch was the comeuppance of numerous players, notably opposition captain Faf du Plessis who also failed to score a run over both innings. Flower acknowledged how vital it is for his players to get accustomed to the hard batting conditions for the second Test.
"Quite a few of the guys struggled on these wickets. Even the South Africa players who know these conditions said this track was bloody hard.
"People can say whatever they want, but they've got to bear in mind these are tough conditions. But good players adapt, and our players have to adapt quickly before the Newlands Test.
"The track isn't quite as bouncy there, and we have got a good team. They're used to fighting hard and coming out of the corner so we'll see what happens at Newlands."
African News Agency (ANA)