Mickey Arthur knows Australian cricket very well. The 50-year-old was the Australian coach for 18 months before being dramatically sacked only a week before the 2013 Ashes campaign in England.
Arthur is now coach of Pakistan and is desperate for his team to come up trumps in the two-Test series against Australia that gets under way in Dubai on Sunday.
Australia has not won a series in Asia since 2011 and Arthur is well and truly aware of the pressure on the inexperienced team to break the sub-continent jinx.
Arthur was Australia coach when it was whitewashed 4-0 by India in 2013 and is still of the opinion that his former team is vulnerable against spin.
“Yes, I think so. History tells you that,” he told The New Daily in an exclusive interview in Dubai.
“For us, however, it is about finding the right strategy to beating Australia rather than just thinking they have a poor history against spin.
“If we play to the best of our ability in these conditions, we have a very good team and we will be hard to beat.”
Pakistan will rely heavily on leg-spinning ace Yasir Shah, but Arthur was quick to point out that he has plenty of variety in the spin bowling department that will test the Australians.
“There is enough [back-up depth] there for sure,” he said.
“We saw Shadab Khan bowl exceptionally well in England and really stepped up when Yasir was injured. They are two very different leg-spinners, so it’s not like you are playing the same.
“Bilal Asif is an off-spinner and with plenty of left-handers in the Australian top order we have just included Mohammad Hafeez, so he is another option we have.”
The Test series against Pakistan will be Australia’s first since the ball-tampering saga in South Africa and there is a big push for new coach Justin Langer to tone down their aggression and create a new culture.
Arthur was scathing of his former colleagues after the Cape Town debacle by writing on Players Voice that the Australian team’s behaviour in the past few years has been “boorish and arrogant” and that such a fiasco was bound to eventuate.
Asked if he expects a different Australian team, Arthur said: “They will be hard to play against and you would not want it any other way with Australia because that is just the way they play the game.
“We are not expecting anything different.
“I know how we play and I know how Justin [Langer] will want his team to play. I’m sure if we play in the right spirit, it will be tough, competitive and I’m sure it will be played in the right spirit.”
Arthur felt there was no need for him to sit down with his counterpart in the lead up to series to discuss the ‘brand’ of cricket both teams needed to play, though.
He also denied the fact that Australia cannot play to its best ability by being excessively aggressive on the field.
“No, not at all. They certainly don’t have to be like that to play their best cricket,” he said.
“They are a hell of a team regardless of whom they have on the pitch.”
“I’m expecting a really well-prepared team. I know Justin Langer and the team management really well.
“They are going to come out here and they will no doubt have expectations to win.
“I have been here watching them in the tour match and they have been really impressive. We are expecting a really tough battle.”