LAHORE: World XI coach Andy Flower said here on Monday that the tour by his star-studded team had the full backing of the cricket fraternity.
“The World XI is fully backed and supported by all the Test playing countries, all the professional cricketers’ unions as well as the ICC (International Cricket Council),” Andy said at a news conference here at a local hotel.
“This clearly demonstrates the unity within the cricket family, as well as the cricket fraternity’s long-standing resolve and commitment to help one of its key members, which has been unable to host international cricket since 2009,” he added.
The former Zimbabwean batting star said he was “privileged” to be in Pakistan. “We are here to celebrate Pakistan’s 70th anniversary of independence, to play our part in the revival of international cricket in Pakistan, and play some great cricket in front of the Pakistani people,” said the former Zimbabwe captain.
He said the World XI comprised some of the most respected cricketers of this generation and were “overwhelmed with the appreciation and support they have received from the people of Pakistan for their decision to tour Lahore.
“These cricketers are here to play their part in the safe and steady return of international cricket in Pakistan, so that the enthusiastic and die-hard fans and followers of Pakistan cricket can once again start watching their stars and their heroes in their own backyard.”
“In this background, Pakistan reaching No 1 in the ICC Test rankings and winning the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is an amazing effort,” the former England head coach said.
“This reflects the strong cricket heritage, culture and talent in this country,” he added.
“I am sure that our international stars will return home with happy memories from their trip to Lahore, and at the same time will leave behind a legacy of co-operation that will help Pakistan build its cricketing future,” said the World XI coach.
Flower also spoke of his personal experience of touring Pakistan in his playing days. “I have a strong bond with Pakistan, having toured here with the Zimbabwe cricket team in 1993, ‘96 and ‘98. Of course, the 1998 Test in Peshawar stands out for me because we won it and that helped us win our maiden Test series,” he said.
“The weather helped us just a little bit in the next two Tests in Lahore and Faisalabad as they were smogged off!” said the former wicket-keeping batsman. He said Pakistan had been a great supporter of Zimbabwean cricket in the 1990s. “I really appreciate the opportunities they helped create for me and other cricketers of Zimbabwe,” he said.