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Arthur keen to upset Aussies in Test

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016 Rob Forsaith

Mickey Arthur admits players felt insecure during his tenure as Australia coach but insists it was an error to sack him, a point he hopes Pakistan will drive home in the three-Test series.

Arthur, who was cut by Cricket Australia (CA) on the eve of the 2013 Ashes, will mentor the tourists in a series that starts with a day-night clash in Brisbane on Thursday.

The South African will be plotting the downfall of many of his former charges, including Usman Khawaja.

Khawaja was one of four players suspended as part of the "Homeworkgate" saga that led to Arthur's exit.

Arthur largely struck a respectful note in his pre-match news conference, suggesting he was "really happy" Khawaja recently found career-best form.

"His batting has gone to another level. We always knew it would," Arthur said on Monday, also recalling his final act as Australia coach was to call Steve Smith into the 2013 Ashes squad.

The South African offered staunch defence of his time working for CA, but agreed with Mitchell Starc's recent observation the team had become "a lot closer" under Darren Lehmann.

"It's actually great to hear," Arthur said.

"The team wasn't very close in those times, but that was because of different characters.

"It was a largely insecure time for the players as well because there was a lot of change ... there was a lot of young players.

"Since then, the guys have matured."

Arthur insisted he remained close with some members of Australia's Test squad, but wasn't expecting invitations to catch up over coffee in the coming weeks.

"It's pretty surreal to be coming back as a visiting coach. But I guess that's how the cricket world operates these days ... it's a ruthless world out there," he said.

"Of course there's a part of me that feels that (wanting to prove CA made a mistake sacking him).

"I always maintain that I loved the first year and a bit of it, it was outstanding and I felt we made some significant progress.

"This series isn't about me against Australia. It's about two very good cricket teams going head-to-head, I hope that can be the focus."

It's wishful thinking from Arthur, who coached the Proteas before joining the Australian brains trust and knows these kind of subplots all too well.

Four years ago, a dossier containing Arthur's supposed plans for South Africa dominated the lead-up to a Test at the Gabba.

Arthur felt he and assistant coach Steve Rixon, who was axed by CA in 2014, could offer the tourists some insider information.

"The intelligence is good. I know a lot of the Australian players particularly well," Arthur said.

"Steve Rixon knows the guys pretty well as well.

"We'll be providing a whole lot of information .... but the information is useless unless you put it into practice."

Nathan Lyon, another member of Australia's new-look XI to have played under Arthur, doubted how much insight Arthur could offer.

"It's a totally different group," Lyon said.

"I'm not really concerned with what Mickey Arthur is doing."

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