ICC appoint former West Indies skipper Richie Richardson as match referee for World XI's visit of Pakistan

Ashish Peter 29/08/2017
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West Indies legend Sir Richie Richardson will oversee the three T20 clashes.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Tuesday that former West Indies skipper Richie Richardson had been appointed as ICC match referee for the upcoming visit of the World XI.

This is the first time since 2009 that an ICC match official has been appointed for any cricket match in Pakistan.

The country has faced a dearth of international cricket in its own backyard ever since the terrorist attacks on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009.

Zimbabwe had toured Pakistan in 2015 but even then the PCB only used local officials and umpires in the absence of support from the ICC.

With the ICC now making a big push to normalise international cricket again in Pakistan, the visit of the World XI, led by South African star Faf du Plessis, will go a long way in convincing other international teams to consider touring Pakistan again.

The ICC had previously signed a three-year deal with an international firm to review the security framework in the country on an annual basis.

The World XI will play a three-match T20 series against the hosts in Lahore, beginning from September 12.

The ICC had announced the 14-man squad, which also includes Hashim Amla and George Bailey for the historic visit, in a press release on Saturday.

The team, coached by former Zimbabwe stalwart Andy Flower, will undergo a two-day training camp in Dubai before arriving in Lahore on September 11.

The PCB has also announced the 16-man squad for the World XI’s visit and there was a surprise omission for veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez.

All the three clashes will take place in the Gaddafi Stadium with the final match being played on September 15.

A successful series could pave the way for international teams touring Pakistan again and things already look like they are heading in the right direction for the PCB.

Cricket West Indies had announced that it will be visiting Pakistan for a T20 series later this November while Sri Lanka Cricket has also agreed a deal in principle to play at least one of the T20 clashes in the hosts’ own backyard during the upcoming series between the two sides to be played in the UAE.

FULL ICC WORLD XI Squad

Faf du Plessis (C), Hashim Amla, Samuel Badree, George Bailey, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Grant Elliott, Tamim Iqbal, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Tim Paine, Thisara Perera, Imran Tahir, Darren Sammy.

FULL PAKISTAN 16 MAN SQUAD

Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umer Amin, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hassan Ali, Amir Yamin, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Usman Shinwari, Sohail Khan.

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Mohammad Hafeez says Virat Kohli is the best batsman of the current generation

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Hafeez chose Virat Kohli as his pick among the current bunch.

Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez is quite regularly called ‘The Professor’ by his teammates.

The tag came about not because of any academic qualifications attained by Hafeez but due to his tendency to talk a lot, to argue a lot and to analyze everything under the sun.

It is fair to say, whether batting or bowling, the 36-year-old always has his thinking cap on. Hence when the all-rounder gives his opinion on who is the best batsman of the current generation, it might just be worth taking notice.

The Pakistan player organized an informal question and answer session with his followers on Twitter on Monday where he took the time to reply to as any fans as he could.

Upon being asked by one such fan as to who is the best batsman of the current generation, Hafeez replied that though there were quite a few candidates, India’s Virat Kohli was his pick.

The Pakistan all-rounder, who has played 50 Tests, 190 ODIs and 178 T20Is for his nation might not have faced-off against the likes of Kohli as much as he would have hoped due to the bilateral strains between the two countries, but his admiration for the Indian batsman was evident in his reply.

He does have some fond memories of leading Pakistan’s T20 side against arch-rivals India. When asked by one fan as to what was his favourite moment as the skipper of the side in the shortest format, Hafeez bought up the win against the neighbours at Bangalore in 2012.

The skipper’s half-century had enabled Pakistan to beat the hosts by five wickets after an India side including Kohli had been restricted to 9-133 in their innings.

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South Africa star Faf du Plessis to lead ICC World XI for Pakistan series

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South Africa's Faf du Plessis will lead a 14-man squad against Pakistan.

South African skipper Faf du Plessis will lead a World XI team to play three Twenty20 matches in Pakistan, authorities announced on Thursday, a huge coup for a cricket-mad country eager to revive the international game.

Pakistan cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi announced the Proteas captain’s participation along with a list of illustrious names from seven Test playing countries.

“The World XI will play three Twenty20 Internationals for the Independence Cup against Pakistan in Lahore on 12, 13 and 15 September,” Sethi told a press conference in Lahore.

England’s ICC World Twenty20 2010 winning captain Paul Collingwood, West Indies’ Darren Sammy, South African Hashim Amla, Bangladesh’s Tamim Iqbal and Australia’s George Bailey will also be part of the World XI.

The matches are aimed at ending Pakistan’s international isolation, triggered after militants attacked the visiting Sri Lankan team’s bus in Lahore in 2009.

Pakistan has hosted all its international matches in the neutral venue of the United Arab Emirates since.

But security has improved dramatically in recent years, giving fans hope that international cricket could finally return, a massive boost in a country where the game is far and away its most popular sport.

Other players for the World XI include David Miller (South Africa), Grant Elliott (New Zealand), Samuel Badree (West Indies), Ben Cutting (Australia), Morne Morkel (South Africa), Tim Paine (Australia), Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka), Imran Tahir (South Africa).

Former Zimbabwe captain and ex-England coach Andy Flower will coach the side, which is set to arrive in Lahore on September 11 after attending a two-day camp in Dubai, said the PCB.

Du Plessis, who recently led South Africa on the tour of England, said he was “honoured” to tour Pakistan.

“All the members of the squad have complete faith and trust in the assessment and judgement of the security experts, who have assured us that there will be no comprise on the safety and security of all those involved in the series,” he said, according to a PCB statement.

Du Plessis said he had played “very exciting” matches against Pakistan in the past, but this would be his first match before a home crowd.

“(P)laying Pakistan in front of its passionate supporters will be a unique occasion, which I can’t wait to experience,” he said.

Amla, who visited Pakistan with a Graeme Smith-led side in 2007, said he looked forward to returning, and was “confident” of having recovered from a shoulder injury.

If the World XI tour goes off without problems, Pakistan hope Sri Lanka will also play a Twenty20 in Lahore in October — a match which will be hugely symbolic for the return of international cricket — followed by a three-match Twenty20 series against West Indies in November.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was optimistic: “I am confident that following the success of these matches, Pakistan will host regular international series which we badly need.”

FULL ICC WORLD XI Squad

Faf du Plessis (C), Hashim Amla, Samuel Badree, George Bailey, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Grant Elliott, Tamim Iqbal, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Tim Paine, Thisara Perera, Imran Tahir, Darren Sammy.

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