What’s the story?
South African star batsmen Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla are reportedly in line to play for the ICC World XI for a three-match T20 series against Pakistan next month. According to Pakistan website Dawn, one of them could even end up captaining the side.
"Two big names in South Africa and world cricket, Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis, have consented to touring Pakistan with the ICC World XI and one of them will be the captain of the side," the official told DawnNews.
In case you didn’t know…
Post the conclusion of its annual meeting in London on June 24, the ICC had announced plans for assembling a World XI side to lock horns with Pakistan, with the aim of reviving international cricket in the country.
The international cricket board had agreed to sanction a total of three T20 games between the hosts and a star-filled World XI side, featuring 15 players from seven countries.
The heart of the matter
Amla and Du Plessis join a long, speculative list of cricketers who have been linked to the World XI. Before the South African duo, Kiwi all-rounder Jimmy Neesham was also reportedly approached to be in Pakistan for a week, with reports coming in that he could be acquired for $100,000. England's Paul Collingwood, Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan and Amla and Du Plessis' teammate Morne Morkel are the other names making the rounds.
Former Zimbabwe captain, and ex-England coach Andy Flower will be coaching the ICC World XI. After the final team is selected, the players will train in Dubai in the days leading up to the tournament.
According to PCB Chairman Najam Sethi, the final list of players will be announced in a few days. The three-match series is scheduled to be held in September.
The decision by the ICC to reboot international cricket in terror-ridden Pakistan is a welcome step for the game's development in the country. Excluding Zimbabwe's tour a couple of years back, Pakistan hasn't played a single home game on their own soil, ever since the horrific 2009 bus attack on Sri Lankan players.
With names like Amla and Du Plessis in the mix, the quality of cricket expected from the T20 series will be high. Hopefully, more such names will volunteer to play cricket in the terror-torn country, for sport is one way to fill the abyss created by violence.