London: Paul Collingwood is in line to be the English representative in a World XI coached by Andy Flower that will play a three-match series in Pakistan next month as the International Cricket Council brings top-level cricket back to the country.
The Guardian understands that Collingwood, England’s World Twenty20 winning captain, has made himself available for the three Twenty20s in Lahore on September 12, 13 and 15 with the squad, which has previously been tipped to include South Africa’s Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir, due to be named in the coming days.
The World XI players are set to earn around 75,000 pounds each for the series that will have international status, military-style protection and is hoped will encourage future tours by national teams. Collingwood, if selected for the squad, would be the one English player as Durham do not feature in the round of County Championship fixtures that takes place at the same time.
The 41-year-old all-rounder, who led England to the World T20 title in 2010 and is the country’s most capped one-day cricketer, remains an active domestic player and this summer became the oldest man to score a T20 hundred with an unbeaten 108 from 60 balls against Worcestershire at New Road. Collingwood has already agreed to play on for Durham next season but is also planning for his post-retirement career as a coach: this winter he will be part of the England management set-up under the head coach, Trevor Bayliss, that travels to Australia for the defence of the Ashes.
Flower, the former England team director, will begin his World XI’s preparation with a training camp in the UAE before flying to Pakistan and is also expected to draw on current or recent internationals from West Indies, Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Afghanistan. India are unlikely to be represented.
Najam Sethi, the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, confirmed on Monday that, subject to security clearance at the end of this month, the series is due to go ahead in Lahore and added that a one-off Twenty20 against Sri Lanka and a three-match tour by West Indies are also slated to follow in October and November provided the World XI matches pass without incident.
“This is a very big thing,” Sethi told reporters in Pakistan. “September, October and November are big months. It’s a big agenda, we need your prayers and we will open the doors and international teams will come. Pray that we keep our security solid. The Punjab government has given us the signal and preparations are in full swing.”
Only Zimbabwe and Afghanistan have played in Pakistan since 2009, when following a terrorist attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore began an eight-year hiatus by the major touring sides and forced Pakistan to play their home internationals at neutral venues. The ICC’s Pakistan task force, led by Giles Clarke, is keen to change this and the World XI tour follows the successful staging of the Pakistan Super League final at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore through a military-style security operation.
Dawid Malan, currently in the England Test team, and Chris Jordan were among the eight overseas players to feature.