World XI captain Faf du Plessis is ambitious to leave a mark on the Pakistani soil.
Du Plessis, who is South Africa’s captain in Tests and is poised to take over leadership in the shorter format as well, while talking to the media in Lahore, said that in a few years’ time he wants to look back at this tour and feel proud of his contribution.
“It’s a huge honour to be here as it’s not often when you are playing cricket in a cause which is much bigger than the game,” said Du Plessis. “As a professional sportsman, numerous factors played their part. Money was one of it, but what really convinced me was that as a sportsman, you want to leave your footprint on the game. So once Andy [Flower] shared his idea with me, I realised that in a few years’ time when I will sit with my family, this is something I can be really proud of.”
He continued: “When the idea was shared, yes we thought about different things. But then we had a word with the concerned authorities who gave us peace of mind and then we just wanted to get here. Last 24 hours have really been excitement for us. We felt like we are in a movie.”
World XI coach and former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper-batsman Andy Flower revealed that he has a special connection with Pakistan, whom he feels honoured to tour once again. “I have great connection with Pakistan and coming here to play cricket shows our commitment to resume international cricket in the country,” said Flower. “It’s a first step in a lot of ways — a first in revival of international cricket for sure. So there is still some way to go.”
Andy’s younger brother Grant has been working with the Pakistan cricket team for three years as a batting consultant, and the 49-year-old revealed that his brother played a crucial role in convincing him to take part in the Independence Cup.
“We haven’t got in touch since I landed here, but we do communicate a lot,” he said. “I was comfortable with the feedback he gave me. It was not only him, I am also in touch with Mushtaq [Ahmed] and [Mohammad] Akram, who also said positive things.”
Du Plessis, who is one of five South African players in the 14-member squad, when asked about if he is willing to bring his national team for a bilateral series in Pakistan, said: “This tour is more about personal choices, but the decision for the national teams’ visit to Pakistan will be taken by the board and I’ve no authority over it.”
Talking about the opponent, the 33-year-old believes Sarfraz Ahmed-led unit clearly holds an edge. “Pakistan team has an edge over us as they play together throughout the year,” he said. “We just got together, so it will take some time for us to gel.”
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi on Monday credits Punjab government and law enforcement agencies for making the dream of Independence Cup a reality. “I want to thank Punjab government, army and other law enforcement agencies for making it possible,” said Sethi while talking to the media in Lahore. “It is a monumental achievement and credit should be given to them.”
Sethi also believes that hosting World XI in Pakistan will pave way for other teams to visit country in the near future. “Such players coming to Pakistan is great news for cricket in this country,” he said. “It was a long route and it all started from the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final. Everyone asked me to go on with the plan regardless of whatever happening in the country, and we did that which paved the way for this series.”
He added: “The whole world will be watching us, and once we will successfully organise this series, we are sure other teams will visit the country soon as well.”
The head of International Cricket Council (ICC) Pakistan task force Giles Clarke, expressed his delight in bringing what he called a team of ‘great players’.
“We should’ve visited Pakistan back in 2011, but due to security advice we couldn’t and I am sorry about that,” said Clarke. “But I’ve brought a team of great players, who will provide competitive cricket to the fans in the upcoming series against a tough opposition like Pakistan.”
Credit: Express Tribune