As South Africa is set to play their first Test in Pakistan after 14 long years, the team’s former captain and middle-order batsman Faf du Plessis shared how his experience of visiting Pakistan contributed to Proteas’ decision to play red-ball cricket in the country.
The classy middle-order batsman captained an International Cricket Council (ICC) World XI team for three T20Is in Lahore in 2017 and then returned to Karachi last year for Peshawar Zalmi in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 playoffs.
The 36-year-old is in line to play his 68th Test but first in Pakistan when the two-Test series starts on January 26 at the National Stadium.
“That [ICC World XI tour] was the first step to bring any sort of cricket back and I think what they did really well at that stage was to bring players from all around the world to come and play and to see that the security levels were going to be very, very good and it gave players peace of mind,” du Plessis said in a video shared by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday.
‘I felt safe in Pakistan’
“I was captaining that team so for me to go back into South Africa, and then speak of my experiences that I felt safe in Pakistan was a huge tip-in where we are today,” he added.
The South African batsman said that it was imperative that Pakistan players continued to play their cricket on their home soil with the same zeal and hope that more international players will tour their country in near times.
“It’s important for Pakistan to play in home conditions. They have been playing in the UAE for the last 11 years. So, their fans have never seen them play and that’s almost like a generation and that’s missed seeing them play.
“Pakistan fans are very proud of their team, like any other nation, but it is when you tour the subcontinent, you realise people here are very passionate about cricket. They go to every match and support their team however they can. Singing, chanting, there’s energy the whole day,” the Proteas player cherished.
2017 tour with the ICC World XI
Reflecting on the 2017 tour with the ICC World XI, du Plessis said: “I think [the ICC World XI’s tour of Pakistan] was really important in the context of bringing cricket back into Pakistan. There was zero cricket happening in Pakistan at that stage.
The second Test between the two teams will be played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, from February 4, before they travel to Lahore for three T20Is on 11, 13, and 14 February at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Du Plessis has played seven Tests against Pakistan in which he has scored 246 runs – including a century – at an average of 27.33. Two of those seven games were played in the United Arab Emirates, where Pakistan hosted their home cricket from 2010 until 2019, before the complete restoration of international and top-flight cricket in the country.