With the World Cup just around the bend, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur is fretting over his key players breaking down ahead of cricket’s showpiece and felt that they perhaps deserve a bit of rest.
Pakistan have been on the road since August with the tour of Zimbabwe followed by a series against Australia in September-October. They then embarked on a tour to New Zealand in November-December and then travelled to South Africa in December-January.
In a perfect world, Arthur would have preferred to see these players wrapped in cotton wool following a grueling schedule but the ongoing PSL has meant the players have had to turn out for the respective franchises.
And a fatigue and niggles are starting to show on some of these players like left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi of Lahore Qalandars, top order batsman Babar Azam of Karachi Kings as well as all-rounders Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan, who both represent Islamabad United.
And Arthur has more than a few worry marks on his forehead.
“It is a little bit of worry for me going forward is that our players that have played for Pakistan have played for four and a half months solid,” Arthur told reporters.
“And we are starting to see it. Shaheen Shah Afridi pulls up. That’s a bit of a worry. Babar Azam has got a little niggle. That’s a little bit of a worry. Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan are both very tired. Shadab Khan’s groin is starting to play up
“Those are issues and worries for me and I’m talking without my Karachi Kings cap and as head coach of Pakistan because we have got some tough cricket,” he added.
The PSL will come to an end on March 17 but there won’t be a breather either with Australia arriving in the UAE for a five-match ODI series which begins on March 22.
And Arthur felt some much needed rest and recuperation was the need of the hour, especially for players who play all three formats.
“We are going to test our bench strength because we just need to find some time for our players that play all three formats to have a break, to go away and refresh themselves, otherwise as we get to the World Cup and our key players at that World Cup are breaking down because we have played too much cricket,” he said.
“So, that is a worry and I think we are seeing the back end of all our three-format cricketers just starting to feel the pinch now in terms of fatigue. And that’s mental fatigue, physical fatigue and because of that their techniques are suffering just a little bit.”