Wooing Clarke and Amla

Bringing in the former Aussie captain and the South African batting maestro to Pakistan would be a major scoop, writes K Shahid

Wooing Clarke and Amla
The tragic blast near Arfa Software Technology Park comes a little over a month before the ICC World XI is scheduled to tour Pakistan. As things stand, the tour is slotted between September 12-19 and all the matches are supposed to be played at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.

The challenge facing the Pakistan Cricket Board would be similar to the one they faced before this year’s Pakistan Super League final in Lahore, which was preceded by two blasts in the city, a little over two weeks before the event.

Let’s hope the board and the security agencies can deal with the current jolt with equal success and the state can uproot the menace of jihadism once and for all, so that as part of a much-needed sustained peace in the country, we can truly welcome international cricket without the many ifs and butts involved.

Andy Flower

Efforts regarding the World XI tour are underway to ensure that as many high-profile players as possible can come and play in Pakistan. The higher the pedigree, the bigger the strides Pakistan cricket would take towards hosting such events on a regular basis, with prolonged normalcy.

“Andy Flower will be the coach of the touring World XI side,” PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan said in a TV interview, adding that he had “heard that Hashim Amla, Michael Clarke, along with New Zealander Luke Ronchi and Australian Tim Paine, are going to be part of the team.”

While Clarke has since told Cricket Australia that the PCB chairman’s statement is “news” to him, perhaps the negotiations haven’t reached a stage where the Australian World Cup winning captain’s participation can be confirmed.

Luke Ronchi

Reports earlier this month said that Clarke was a strong candidate for the coaching position at the latest PSL franchise Multan Sultans, which could be captained by Mohammed Hafeez, and might even have Sri Lankan legend Mahela Jayawardene in the side.

The addition of the Sultans to the PSL – which will increase the number of matches in the tournament, with Pakistan hosting many more fixtures as well – coupled with the ICC World XI’s tour, means that a lot is happening in Pakistan cricket, and the PCB deserves its due credit.

There are reports that West Indies and Sri Lanka would also be touring Pakistan. Needless to say, their tours depend on how the series against the ICC World XI plays out and more importantly how safe Lahore remains in the near future.

Amla with Shahid Afridi

Going back to the names that are being rumoured to come to Pakistan, Amla obviously stands out. Not only is he a world class batsman who is still playing international cricket for a top side, he is also a great ambassador for the sport.

Should Amla and Clarke agree to tour Pakistan, there is every chance that other high-profile names would join in, further facilitating the tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Ronchi, who has played for both Australia and New Zealand, and Paine, who is a star in T20 leagues, are also international names that would help boost the profile of the series in Lahore.

Clarke with Misbah-ul-Haq

The 2015 Zimbabwe tour was huge, the PSL final even bigger. But perhaps the toughest challenges still lie ahead

Following the prolonged Champions Trophy celebrations Pakistan don’t play any international cricket till Sri Lanka’stour in October this year. The PCB would be hoping that the tour goes ahead in Pakistan, but a lot needs to do be done before it materialises.

The 2015 Zimbabwe tour was huge, the PSL final even bigger. But perhaps the toughest challenges still await Pakistan cricket.

Let’s hope the on-field success can be replicated by helping ensure a successful series against the World XI in September.