MICKEY ARTHUR: First of all, it would be remiss of me not to thank the ICC, Steve Elworthy and his team for an unbelievable tournament. I think this tournament has been amazing. I think the quality of cricket played has been exceptional, and the standard and organization has been second to none. So congrats to Steve and his team.
I'd like to thank our players, our support staff, media, Pakistan cricket board and selection panel for the support that we've got through our World Cup campaign. It hasn't ended as we would have liked to have ended it. It's been a campaign of ifs and buts. I think, if we have a look through our first five games and we have a look through our last five, it's a campaign of two halves, which has been disappointing.
I think at 24, the average age of 24, we're the youngest team by a long way in this competition, and that is something that we can be proud of, and I think that all goes well for the future of Pakistan cricket.
We've showcased a lot of our young talent, and I think the likes of Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, the list goes on and on. And some of our experienced players, Sarfaraz, Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, have been outstanding. The work ethic and the sheer grit and determination they've showed through this tournament, through their training, through their preparation has been a credit to Pakistan cricket.
A lot of the time, you guys don't see what goes on in the dressing room. You don't see all the time that goes on in the net session. The desire these guys have got to improve and become the best they can be, the passion they have for their country is something that is second to none. Pakistan cricket is in safe hands with these young players. I'm sure they'll go from strength to strength.
If we look back on the tournament, as I said earlier, it was a tournament of ifs and buts, but I think we've shown it ended very, very strong. Congratulations to the four qualifiers. I think they've played the best cricket throughout this competition, and may the best team win.
It's nice to sit here and know we've beaten two of those top four teams during our campaign, which shows we are not a mile off in terms of where we are as a cricket team. Just for me to end off with, again, just saying thanks to you guys and thanks to the support.
I must say that I'd just like to credit the captain, Sarfaraz. After what he was exposed to after the Indian game was atrocious as a Pakistan cricket captain, as any captain of any cricket team, and the way he held his composure, the way he led from the front, the way his work ethic never, ever changed, the more determined he got through the tournament, I think he's been an inspiration to that dressing room, and I think Sarfaraz deserves a lot of credit for this as well.
Q. Mickey, you had the experience of working with the South African team and with the Australian cricket team, and your contract is going to be expired after this World Cup, and you have showed your attention that you want to continue with Pakistan cricket. How do you compare coaching these three teams? Which was a good one for you?
MICKEY ARTHUR: They've all been different in so many ways. I think the South African one was I was a very young coach and we were a very young cricket team, and we all grew together. The Australian team was good for certain periods of it, but it wasn't that long.
The Pakistan one has certainly been a very, very fulfilling one for me. I have enjoyed every moment of the last three years. To see these guys improve, to see them get better, to see the passion, to see the support that we have around the world has been very, very satisfying, and it's been an unbelievable experience coaching these guys.
I'm very, very passionate about these boys in the dressing room. I'm very passionate about cricket, and I'm very passionate about Pakistan. I just want to see Pakistan get to where they need to be. I would love to see cricket come back to Pakistan because I think the population, the people need it. The people would love it. The colour, the emotion would be second to none. I love every minute, and I have loved every minute of coaching this Pakistan cricket team.
Q. Mickey, Pakistan had a mixed start in the opening four games. They picked up the momentum the last four games. What do you think the few main causes of Pakistan's not reaching the last four stage? We have improved over the last four matches. What are your thoughts?
MICKEY ARTHUR: I think, if we go back, it's ifs and buts. If we go back, the West Indies game, the first game of the tournament, when you lose like we lost, it's almost impossible to get back on net run rate, and we saw that. So that was disappointing.
We then picked up momentum. We beat England. And just as we got some momentum early in the competition, because we had played some good cricket before the start of the World Cup -- I think the nerves got us in the West Indies game, young team. We froze in that game. We then came back, dusted ourselves off, and beat England, then we got rained out against Sri Lanka, and we didn't play a game for nine days. We didn't train other than indoors, and we lost momentum again going into what was two very tough fixtures, Australia and India.
Had we gone England -- I'm not saying by any means we would have beaten Sri Lanka, but we were right there. We were getting on really well. It was almost as if we had to start again, and we hit two of the semifinals teams in Australia and India. And then obviously second half of the tournament, I think, has been superb, and I think we've showcased our talent and played some very, very good cricket.
Q. Mickey, five wins of eight matches that you played, but you were edged out. Do you think there needs to be consideration over that you should consider head to head as well?
MICKEY ARTHUR: As I said to you, it's exactly right. I would certainly have liked them to consider head to head because then tonight we'd be in the semifinal. I do think it needs a look. I certainly do. I think amount of wins head to head, and then if there's three teams all together, then I think net run rate can sort it out.
Because what it does and what it's done to us is that one very poor game and you really battle to recover again.
Q. Mickey, you must have worked hard on the fielding and fitness of the players, but there's always a question mark. Why?
MICKEY ARTHUR: Yeah, there is always a question mark, and it's something that we work incredibly hard at. We really do. We'll just keep knocking, knocking the door down in terms of working on that because we've seen an improvement. Our catching this tournament needs to improve. We know that. I thought our ground fielding and throwing improved through the tournament. I thought some of our ground fielding and the intent we showed through our ground fielding was what was very, very good. At this level, you can't drop catches, though, and, again, that's something we work on.
As I said, our fielding coach Grant Bradburn works day in and day out. He works tirelessly with these guys. Again, it's just a matter of us to keep working, working, working because, when we get working, we condition the guys. When they're nice and fit, we'll be -- our fielding certainly will go to another level, and we've shown that it has stepped up. We need to step it up again.
Q. Mickey, what was the plan today? Was it in your mind that Pakistan could score 400-plus and then get Bangladesh out? Was that in the minds?
MICKEY ARTHUR: I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a discussion. We did discuss it. But I think that was something that we could only assess once -- we did something right. We won the toss, which was a good start. That kept us alive. And then the first 10 overs were going to be quite crucial. You can't just walk in there and go, I think we're going to get 400. Getting 400 is a platform. You need to get a good base, and you need to move.
The message we got from Fakhar when he came back in the change room was it was slow. Balls going into the wicket were quite tough. We realized that getting -- the average score, I think, is 270 over the tournament. I mean, getting 400 was a bit of a pipe dream. And then we realized we just wanted to win and we wanted to win well.
I mean, the dressing room at the moment is a very, very disappointed dressing room. There's not high fives, and there's no congratulations going on because we haven't qualified. But the guys can leave this tournament with their heads held very, very high. They've worked unbelievably hard, and they've played some very, very fine cricket. You watch a highlight package of the World Cup, there's going to be a lot of Pakistani players on it.
Q. You knocked out two of the final fours, and even then you are going back home. What sort of disappointed you and your team is? And the second question is what are the take-aways for you from this World Cup?
MICKEY ARTHUR: First of all, it is disappointing, and I think it just goes back to the first game, the West Indies game. If we looked at the Australian game, we had an opportunity to win that. 145-2 chasing 307, we had an opportunity. We didn't take that opportunity. Those are the two games that, if I -- when I go to bed tonight and lie back and think on the campaign, those are the two nightmares I'm going to have.
The good, pleasant dreams I'm going to have are of Babar Azam. His batting through this tournament has been superb. Imam-ul-Haq gets better and better and better. Shadab Khan is going to get better and better. Shaheen Afridi, coming back, is getting better and better. I'm so passionate about these young boys. These young boys are the future. These young boys need time.
I heard Shoaib Malik mention it in his press conference, and I did understand a bit of Urdu. These young boys, we give them time, these young boys are going to be very, very, very good. What they do need is they need your guys' support. They really do.
When we have a poor performance, our performances are going to be up and down. They're young cricketers. When they have a poor performance, they read everything you guys say. Sometimes I tell them not to because it kills them. They read everything. They need your guys' support. In order for Pakistan to improve, we're all in it together, guys. We need to improve together. And if we do that, the guys get support, these guys will go from strength to strength.
Q. Mickey, although Pakistan have finished at number 5, the game versus West Indies, the game versus Afghanistan, we didn't play well. Even back home in Pakistan, the people who love cricket, who follow cricket, they are criticizing Pakistan team's performance. They think it's not a good show. It's a bad show. It's a flop show. What do you think?
MICKEY ARTHUR: Sounds like glass half empty.
Q. Let me complete. The captain is responsible? The coach is responsible? Who is responsible that we didn't qualify in final four and we didn't play well versus West Indies, Afghanistan, Australia?
MICKEY ARTHUR: Afghanistan, if I forget, we got two points, didn't we? I think we managed to win that game. Hang on. That's glass half full, glass half empty. That's exactly what I was saying earlier about our media.
Let's give these guys a little compliment, rather than looking at the negative. We're all responsible. I sit here responsible for it. The captain is responsible. We're all responsible for the fact we didn't get to the semifinal, but let's have a look at some of the good things the guys have done. Let's try to stay positive on this. It's always negative.
Q. Coach, hopefully, you will be the next coach of the Pakistan cricket team. If it does not happen, what will be the message from you to the Pakistan cricket team, the management? And, of course, to the nation?
MICKEY ARTHUR: Look, there's going to be a review now, and we'll see how that goes. My message, again, is let's stay positive. We've got some very, very young cricketers who are going to be champion players. Let's back them. Let's support them because they're going to be very, very good.
Again, take our message to the supporters. The supporters in England have been amazing. The support we've got here is unbelievable. I think, I know, and my message to the players tonight is they've made a lot of people very, very proud.