What’s the story?
In what could be a major boost to cricket coming back to Pakistan, International Cricket Council (ICC) looks set to send a World XI to face Pakistan in a four-match T20I series in late September, according to the Guardian. The series is to be called The Independence Cup and will mark the 70th anniversary of the partition.
The full details of the players who might take part in the series, which will take place at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, which hosted the Pakistan Super League final on Sunday between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi is yet to be finalized.
Speaking to The Guardian, Giles Clarke, ECB president and head of ICC’s Pakistan Task Force, said: “The world of cricket needs to help Pakistan, who cannot continue to play their home fixtures overseas. The youth need inspiring, and the national teams need far more cricket played in familiar terrain. Furthermore, the terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan.”
Extra Cover: Pakistan Super League 2017: Team of the Tournament
Since the attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009, Pakistan have hosted all their home matches in the UAE barring one series against Zimbabwe two years ago. But the Pakistan Super League final was hosted by Lahore under tight security and the players who took part in it had no qualms, even if a few decided against playing in the game that was eventually won by Peshawar Zalmi.
The series looks set to take place in September, with the World XI set to assemble in Dubai on 17 September before flying to Pakistan and playing in the four matches at Lahore on 22nd, 23rd, 28th and 29th September. For the PSL final, the city was in lockdown, the team buses were not only bulletproof but also escorted by elite troops in a military-style operation.
Details of the players who will feature in the World XI are yet to be finalized but it will be interesting to see which players give the green light to play in Pakistan. Six overseas stars, including England internationals, Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Tymal Mills withdrew from the PSL final but eight, including England’s Chris Jordan and West Indies World T20 winnings skipper Darren Sammy played the game that was won by Zalmi.
We have to wait and see who the players who take part in the game are and if things go according to plan after the success of the PSL final.
This is a great move by the ICC to bring back international cricket to Pakistan but the safety of the players have to be paramount. Given the number of foreign players who skipped the PSL final, ICC need to make sure that the safety of players isn’t compromised but as the PSL final showed, cricket is possible and it is about time that the cricket fans in Pakistan get to see their stars in action.