Azhar Mahmood, the Pakistan bowling coach, has urged his side to follow England’s example as they look to stage a One-Day International revival of their own.
Pakistan head into Sunday’s final ODI in Cardiff 4-0 down in the five-match series and with just a lone Twenty20 International in Manchester on Wednesday to follow before they leave for home.
Pakistan drew the preceding four-Test series with England 2-2 to rise to No. 1 in the world Test rankings. By contrast, they are a lowly ninth in the ODI table, in danger of failing to qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup in England.
Mahmood, a veteran of several seasons in English county cricket, hoped the players learn quickly from the recent reversals. “It’s been a disappointing time for us,” said Mahmood on Saturday (September 3). “The way we bowled at Nottingham (when England scored 444 for 3) wasn’t good enough. We are going to make mistakes. As long as we learn from them, we hope we can turn the tables around.”
That is what England have done following their embarrassing first-round exit at last year’s 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
“Where England were 18 months ago, they changed the mentality, and we have to do the same thing,” said Mahmood. “Mindset, a little bit more aggression, a bit more positive cricket, intent. We need to change this mentality and thinking. Moving forward, we’ve got young players who can change things around but it will take time.”
Mahmood said the transformation in England’s ODI form started when Paul Farbrace, the current assistant coach, took temporary charge following the sacking of Peter Moores after the World Cup. “When Mooresy left and Farby took over, that’s the time they thought, ‘we’ve got not nothing to lose, we just need to express ourselves on the field’,” pointed out Mahmood.
One of the players who has been emblematic of England’s new style of ODI cricket is Jason Roy, who Mahmood played with during his Surrey days. Mahmood’s last appearance for the London-based county was a Twenty20 game against Kent at The Oval this July, when Roy struck 120 not out in 62 balls in a 37-run win.
“They (England) have got players like Jason Roy – he can change the game in no time – (Eoin) Morgan himself, Jos Buttler,” said Mahmood. “They’ve got a good unit of young players who understand the game and can play big shots and rotate the strike really well.
“Where we are lacking as a batting unit we are not rotating the strike and we don’t have the guys who can clear the ropes. We need to find those guys very quickly if we want to improve in one-day cricket.”
As for the stark contrast in Pakistan’s Test and 50-over form, Mahmood said, “We’ve got a lot of new faces in the one-day side. If you see why we are No. 1 in Test match cricket, we’ve got players who have been playing for the last five years so it’s a consistency we need to give our one-day guys too.”