BRISBANE Heat allrounder Ben Cutting hopes the upcoming World XI versus Pakistan series in Lahore can pave the way for the return of regular international cricket in Pakistan.
Zimbabwe have been the only Test-playing nation to tour Pakistan since a Sri Lanka team bus was attacked by gunmen in March 2009, with the African nation playing a three-match T20I series there in May 2015. But with the successful hosting of this year’s Pakistan Super League final in Lahore, the concept of a World XI tour gathered momentum, and it will now serve as a precursor to likely tours by Sri Lanka and West Indies to the war-ravaged country later this year.
“Obviously there’s not been a lot of international cricket played there since 2009 when the Sri Lankans toured, but I think things have changed a bit since then,” Cutting told.
“They played the PSL final there earlier this year which went off without a hitch, and a few overseas boys were part of that. I spoke to a few of those guys, they were happy with it all, and I spoke with the security guys when I made my decision. It’s a big thing for world cricket to be able to take this sort of game there – a World XI against Pakistan. Hopefully it goes well, I believe Sri Lanka are touring after us, and that might start the ball rolling for other international teams taking cricket back to Pakistan, which can only be a good thing for world cricket.” The World XI will play a three-match T20I series – to be called the Independence Cup – against Pakistan under lights at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on September 12, 13 and 15. Cutting will line up alongside Hobart Hurricanes pair George Bailey and Tim Paine, as well as a host of other international stars, and as a later addition to the squad, the 30-year-old contacted the pair before making his decision.
The fast-bowling allrounder, who has recovered from recent hernia surgery, also said he was looking forward to being part of a World XI side – an opportunity he realises he may never receive again. “I remember watching World XI games as a kid, I think they played Australia at the MCG at one point in time,” Cutting recalled. “I remember (Heat coach) Dan Vettori played in a few as well, but they’re few and far between, so I’m pretty excited to be a part of it.”
Cutting did seek the support of those closest to him regarding his decision to take part in the series, given the troubled recent history of the area.
“They all trusted my decision,” he said. “They understand it’s a pretty important game to be a part of, not just for myself but for cricket in Pakistan. So they’re comfortable with it.”
The World XI will be led by South African Faf du Plessis, and coached by Zimbabwe great Andy Flower.
Paine will play in the series before linking up with Australia’s T20 squad in India for a three-match series in October, while Bailey has been playing for Hampshire in England’s domestic competitions this northern summer. The squad will convene in Dubai in the coming days before the series opener next Tuesday.