Former South Africa batsman AB de Villiers will feature in the upcoming edition of the Pakistan Super League. De Villiers will play two matches in Lahore for Lahore Qalandars on March 9 and 10. Stating that he has a role to play in international cricket return to Pakistan, the 35-year-old maintained that he would be available only for the group stage games, due to family commitments. In November last year, de Villiers had signed up to play only seven league games in UAE. However, on Monday, he announced a change in plans.
AB de Villiers confirms Lahore return for PSL 2019 pic.twitter.com/Jf1IQzAucz
— Saleem Khaliq (@saleemkhaliq) 14 January 2019
“I felt that I had this opportunity to maybe make an impact to help international cricket return to Pakistan,” he told the BBC World Service’s Stumped programme.
“I was reluctant to go a few years back, when we were all a bit worried, but I feel the time is right to go back there.”
“I’m hoping to go there and have some fun and show the whole world that Pakistan is safe to travel to again.”
Meanwhile, the 34-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman added he “would love to play” in English cricket’s new Hundred tournament when it launches in 2020.
Matches will be restricted to 100 balls per innings — even fewer than in Twenty20 — in a bid to speed up the game.
India captain Virat Kohli has queried the need for a new format in addition to first-class, one-day and Twenty20 cricket.
But De Villiers, who unlike Kohli is now a ‘free agent’ after retiring from international duty in May, said: “I can’t see anything wrong with trying something different.” “I’m not set in my schedule at the moment but I would love to play in the UK.
“I’m sure with the tradition and the culture of cricket over there, it would be very well supported. I would love to be a part of it.”
“I am delighted to confirm that I will represent Lahore Qalandars in front of our home crowds on 9 and 10 March, during the HBL PSL 2019,” de Villiers had said earlier in a press release.
“I look forward to revisiting the Gaddafi Stadium and aim to play my part in helping Lahore Qalandars achieve something they have been aspiring for since the inception of this tournament in 2016,” ESPNcricinfo quoted him as saying.
“I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan. I still remember the support and appreciation we received in 2007. Furthermore, I feel I have a role to play in helping international cricket return to Pakistan. These have been some of the motivating factors for me to return to Lahore,” de Villiers added.
“I sympathise with the people of Pakistan because they have been cricket-starved for no fault of theirs, but I am optimistic that the days are not too far when international cricket will return to Pakistan and the stadia will once again be packed with crowds,” he concluded.
PCB chairman Ehsan Mani welcomed de Villiers’ decision and said, “I am confident that de Villiers’s decision at the back of his fellow World XI, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the Windies’ cricketers’ decisions to play in Lahore will encourage other leading cricketers and international sides to visit this cricket-passionate country,”