K.R. Nayar column: World XI stars have already won the hearts of cricket fans

Pakistan fans deserve their reward for their eight year long wait and support

18:53 September 11, 2017

Last weekend I got the opportunity to interact with some of the World XI cricketers who had assembled here on their way to Pakistan for the three-match Twenty20 series. What impressed me most was their enthusiasm to help Pakistan stage international cricket in their country again. The gesture from these top cricketers was akin to the age-old saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

New Zealand star all-rounder Grant Elliott went on to reveal that it was his friendship with Pakistan cricketers with whom he plays in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the UAE that made him accept the invite to tour Pakistan. Players like Elliott are well aware of the helplessness in every Pakistan player on being denied playing international cricket in front of their home crowd.

Every cricketer dreams of playing international cricket in front of their family and friends, and Pakistan cricketers being unable to do it for the last eight years is indeed demoralising.

Top players from all countries should have been part of the World XI, irrespective of their country’s political differences, to express solidarity in restoring international cricket back to Pakistan.

The circumstances that put an end to international cricket in Pakistan could happen in any country, and it is in moments like these that cricketers should be united for a cause.

West Indies’ two-time World Twenty20 winning captain Darren Sammy, who has been vocal in his support for Pakistan, deserves to be lauded for his sporting spirit.

He encouraged everyone in the World XI by sharing his experience of playing in the PSL final in Lahore this year as part of the Peshawar Zalmi team. So much so that Pakistan supporters and cricketers consider Sammy as their most loved international cricketer.

Sammy went on to comment that “helping my friends in Pakistan watch international cricket again will be a wonderful thing”.

South Africa’s Hashim Amla, another star player in the World XI who has his roots in Gujarat, India, displayed the true spirt of an international cricketer while stating that Pakistan fans are fantastic around the world.

These fans deserve their reward for not only waiting for eight years but also rooting for their team from different parts of the world. It is these fans’ support, be it in the UAE or England, that has helped Pakistan beat formidable teams and even emerge as the Champions Trophy winner this year. In fact, it is the Pakistan fans in UAE that transformed their domestic PSL tournament into a huge success.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) deserves appreciation for bestowing international status on the series and thereby ensuring that any top performance enters the record books. But the World XI players have already clinched a place in the hearts of cricket fans through their gesture of backing a noble cricket cause.