LONDON – Mickey Arthur’s Pakistan may have drilled the final nail in South Africa’s World Cup coffin, but that doesn’t mean he enjoyed watching his former team capitulate at Lord’s on Sunday.
Arthur enjoyed a largely successful stint as Proteas coach from 2005 through to 2010, masterminding historic Test series victories in England and Australia, en-route to annexing the World No 1 Test ranking, while also guiding South Africa to a World Cup semi-final in the Caribbean in 2007.
However, Arthur also felt the wrath of the nation, particularly after the defeat to Australia in St Lucia when the Proteas slumped to 149 all out - their lowest World Cup total ever.
The Proteas, though, are currently in the midst of their worst World Cup campaign ever, with the knives being sharpened and then stuck in after every defeat and Arthur could not help but sympathise with his countrymen.
“I watch South Africa with a real fondness,” the 50-year-old said. “South Africa are my second team without a doubt, and it is sad for me. It’s sad.
“I do feel deeply disappointed for them at the moment. It’s a team that’s just a little bit short on confidence. Every team goes through that.
“I think now is a time to just try and get behind those boys. They are trying incredibly hard. I know what they are going through. It’s tough. It’s really tough where they are.”
Having coached Australia previously and Pakistan now, Arthur is well-versed in taking abuse from the media, public, former greats and even disgruntled players. His period with Pakistan has been particularly volatile, where every defeat is regarded as a national disaster.
It was only last week that the former Griqualand West opener was “Enemy No 1” back in Pakistan after the defeat to arch-rivals India, but now on the top of the world again after Sunday’s victory over South Africa.
“Last Sunday I wanted to commit suicide, but it was - you know, it’s only one performance,” he said. “It happens so quickly. You lose a game; you lose another game; it’s a World Cup; media scrutiny; public expectation, and then you almost go into sort of survival mode. We’ve all been there.
“I had a quick chat to Gibbo (Ottis Gibson, the Proteas coach) after the game. They will be going to training every day, hurting like any other team hurts, and trying to get it right.
“They need KG (Rabada) to run in and knock over three with the new ball early, or Quinny (De Kock) to go in and get a quick 50 just to get it going, and then they will feed off that and that will turn around very, very quickly.
“We always say, you’re only one performance away. You’re either a hero or a villain and it only takes one performance to get back to where you need to be.
“I’m confident that they can because there’s a hell of a lot of talent in that dressing room.”@ZaahierAdams
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