South African skipper Faf du Plessis on Saturday admitted he was nervous ahead of the World XI tour of Pakistan but praised the hosts for ensuring a safe series which he said would help its revival of international cricket.
Apart from five limited-overs games against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015, Pakistan had not hosted top-level international cricket since militants attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009, killing eight people and wounding seven players and staff.
“When I first thought of coming, obviously there was little bit of nervousness within myself,” said du Plessis, who led the World XI for the Twenty20 three match series. “Now going through this week with complete different emotions and feelings, I’m very happy with our time here, we’ve really enjoyed it as a team,” he told an end-of-tour press conference.
Pakistan celebrated the return of international cricket with a thumping 33-run win at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on Friday to clinch the series 2-1. Hosting the short series is a major step towards convincing international teams to return, with Sri Lanka already due to play a Twenty20 match in Lahore on Oct. 29.
Du Plessis said he was deeply impressed by his time in Lahore but was not sure he could convince South Africa to tour just yet. “I can just relate my experiences over here, but they will have to be a complete different set of things put in place for South Africa to come and tour here,” he said. “What I can say is the fact that we’ve been in Lahore here now and we did feel safe,” he said. “If you do out all those things that were in place [for this series] then definitely another step, another step, another step, to hopefully [bring] cricket back into Pakistan.”
World XI coach Andy Flower agreed Pakistan was making progress toward reviving international cricket. “This is the step taken in the right direction. This is one step forward, it’s been very successful and very well received here in Pakistan, here in Lahore,” said the ex-England coach, who assembled a World XI with players from seven countries. “The coverage of the three games around the world has gone down very well. The security operations has made players safe and secure, so first step has been taken so there will be more steps along the way,” said Flower.
“I’ve never been part of a game where there’s been so much emotions and appreciativeness from the crowd when they are cheering you as if you are playing at your own home crowd,” he said.