Openly admitting that it was “very frustrating” to see Mohammad Irfan bowling just 5 overs at Headingley before leaving the field, Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has made it clear that he will not tolerate unfit and under-performing players in the national squad.
Irfan, who was called into the squad as replacement for injured Mohammad Hafeez, managed to claim two wickets in just five legitimate overs he bowled in the fourth ODI against England at Headingley before going off with cramps. He was then ruled out of the remainder of the England tour.
“Irfan is not happy at all at the way the head coach insisted that he return to Pakistan after he limped off the field during the fourth ODI in England with a hamstring strain,” one well-placed source told PTI.
The source said that Irfan, after returning to Lahore, had complained to some officials that he was not unfit and had only got a slight calf strain, and was fit a day after the fourth ODI at Manchester.
“Irfan claimed that he told the head coach that he was fit but was still told to return to Lahore and report at the national cricket academy and be 100 per cent fit for the series against the West Indies,” the source disclosed.
He said Irfan had even asked the team management and trainers to take his fitness test.
“Irfan is unhappy because he feels that the coach did not take his word and trusted him on his fitness,” the source said.
Millions of viewers saw Arthur getting angry and upset when Irfan came off the field with a hamstring or calf strain after bowling just five overs.
“The head coach also didn’t support a move to allow Mohammad Hafeez to remain with the team after he was ruled out of the second ODI with a fitness issue,” the source said.
In Hafeez’s case also Arthur had made it clear he would not allow unfit players to travel with the team. Hafeez also returned to Lahore and is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the NCA.
Arthur, who took charge of the Pakistan team, has apparently said at team meetings that no compromise would be made on fitness of any player and players need to start performing as per team plans and not play selfishly or individual innings.
“In the past some players used to hide their fitness issues in conjunction with the PCB medical panel at the NCA and also by befriending the national team’s trainer or physio and remain with the team,” the source said.
The culture, however, appears to be changing now as Arthur had brought in his own fielding coach Steve Rixon and physio/trainer Shane Hayes.
The source informed that Arthur has conveyed his concern over the way Irfan was sent to England without first checking his fitness to chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and a senior board official.