MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Mickey Arthur felt his reputation took a big hit when he was sacked as head coach of Australia three years ago but the Pakistan mentor says he is not on a “revenge mission” as he prepares to take on his former charges.
Pakistan are bidding to become the first South Asian side to win a series Down Under and Arthur brings an insider’s perspective of the Australian set-up after his ill-fated 19-month stint at the helm from 2011-13.
Arthur’s dismissal three weeks before the 2013 Ashes stung the South African’s pride and was the trigger for an acrimonious severance claim against former his employers.
After a three-year exile from international coaching roles, Arthur took the Pakistan job in May and his return to Australia leading the tourists has added spice to the three-match series.
“The toughest part was around three years ago, getting my head around exactly how all that happened because your reputation, your integrity takes a massive knock,” Arthur told Fox Sports.
”But I worked my way through that and coming back I always knew it was going to be tough. I’ve learnt to smile and just take it on the chin.
”It’s not about me against Australia. It’s about two very good young cricket teams going head-to-head, that’s where the focus should be.
“The focus is certainly not on any revenge mission or anything like that. I hold no anger, I made peace with it a long time ago.”
Arthur, who was replaced by Australia’s current mentor Darren Lehmann, wasted little time in recruiting Steve Rixon as Pakistan’s fielding coach.
Rixon, who held a number of assistant roles with Australia from 2011, was axed from Lehmann’s team in 2014 and also departed with bad blood, telling local radio that he had “very little respect” for Cricket Australia.
The coaches’ loss to Australia has been Pakistan’s gain, according to captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
“That (knowledge) gives us also a chance we can win here and we can play better cricket here and improve our record here in Australia,” Misbah told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday, the eve of the day-night first test.
“(Arthur) knows their strengths and weaknesses, that’s always useful when you have that sort of inside information on the opposition.”
Arthur, who led South Africa to a series triumph in Australia in 2008-9, said it was a “surreal feeling” coming back to the Gabba and operating out of the touring team’s dressing room.
“And coaching against guys I’m particularly fond of,” he added. “But that’s the world of international coaching. It’s a pretty ruthless world and that’s what happens. You come up against old charges all the time.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney