Pakistan tour ‘more than cricket’ for Faf and Flower

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) – The World XI’s tour of militancy-racked Pakistan is more than just a game, captain Faf du Plessis and coach Andy Flower said yesterday, amid high hopes it will revive international cricket in the country.

South Africa’s du Plessis told reporters in Lahore it was a “huge honour” to be playing the highest-profile event in cricket-mad Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.

Pakistan has not hosted top-level international cricket – barring five limited-over matches against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 – since that attack, which killed eight people and injured seven players and staff.

“It’s not every day you get an opportunity to play in something that is much more than just about yourself and your own team or your own country,” du Plessis said. World XI coach Andy Flower, who toured Pakistan in 1993, 1996 and 1998 with Zimbabwe, said he and his team were “privileged” to be there.

“These cricketers are here to play their part in the safe and steady return of international cricket in Pakistan, so that the enthusiastic and diehard fans and followers of Pakistan cricket can once again start watching their stars in their own backyard.”

International World XI captain Faf du Plessis (R) holds his T-shirt along with team coach Andy Flower (L) during a ceremony in Lahore. – AFP

Officials have said there will be “foolproof” security for the three-match Twenty20 series starting Tuesday in Lahore.

Both the hotel and stadium will be cordoned off, with 9,000 police and paramilitary staff deployed.

Shops and restaurants around the venue will be shut while spectators will have to pass through multiple security checkpoints.

Du Plessis said he was confident in the security arrangements.

“You do think about that sort of thing, but as soon as we spoke to the people who were in control of the security… as a player all you want was that peace of mind and they gave it to us.”

Once the players boarded the plane, he said, their fears vanished as they began to look forward to taking part in what he described as a “huge turnaround in world cricket”.