Faf du Plessis and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Photo: @TheRealPCB via Twitter
Faf du Plessis and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Photo: @TheRealPCB via Twitter
World XI captain Faf du Plessis is welcomed at the Lahore airport by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi. Photo: @TheRealPCB via Twitter
World XI captain Faf du Plessis is welcomed at the Lahore airport by Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi. Photo: @TheRealPCB via Twitter
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers patrol in the vicinity of Gaddafi Stadium ahead of the World XI series against Pakistan in Lahore. Photo: K.M. Chaudary/AP
Pakistani paramilitary soldiers patrol in the vicinity of Gaddafi Stadium ahead of the World XI series against Pakistan in Lahore. Photo: K.M. Chaudary/AP
A Pakistani police officer stands guard at a practice session in Lahore. Photo: K.M. Chaudary/AP
A Pakistani police officer stands guard at a practice session in Lahore. Photo: K.M. Chaudary/AP

CAPE TOWN – Everything about Faf du Plessis suggests he could be mistaken for a famous actor.

The uber hip dress sense, debonair charm, slick hairstyle and the accompanying puppy to press conferences are all traits that would see the Proteas captain transcend into the world of showbiz without flinching.

Over the past couple of days, Du Plessis has certainly discovered what it means to be an “A-list” celebrity as he, along with fellow Proteas teammates Hashim Amla, Morné Morkel, David Miller and Imran Tahir, flew into Pakistan on Monday evening, all geared up to pave the way for regular international competition to return to the cricket-crazed nation.

The South African contingent are part of a World XI that will face Pakistan in three T20 Internationals, with Du Plessis being bestowed with the honour of leading the global composite team.

It is only the second time that an international side has toured Pakistan since 2009 when a Sri Lankan team bus was shot at by 12 gunmen.

“The last 24 hours were exciting because the excitement of last night is not something we as players get to do normally, getting on a private jet, being chauffeured away from the plane, so we felt like we were in a movie,” Du Plessis said of the presidential-type security levels at the pre-match press conference in Lahore.

Although there is a reported figure of £75 000-a-man (about R1.29 million) tour fee being paid to the all World XI players – which undoubtedly would have helped the negotiating process – convincing the 14-man squad that it was safe and secure to tour Pakistan would have been a major challenge.

Assurances would have needed to be given, like the huge military presence that will be visible throughout the World XI’s stay – not only on match-days – but also at the team’s hotel and during transfers to and from the ground.

“When this whole thing came about, you do think about those sorts of things, but as soon as we spoke to the people who were in control of the security, the planning, things were fine,” Du Plessis said.

“As a player, all you want is that peace of mind and they gave it to us, so they are very confident that this will be smooth sailing.

“As soon as we got on to the plane, those thoughts were gone; we just wanted to get here and experience what was going to be something that was going to be huge turnaround in world cricket.”

Judging by the interaction on social media – Du Plessis and coach Andy Flower’s pre-match press conference, which was streamed on Facebook Live and received over 6 000 “likes” – the enthusiasm for international cricket returning to Pakistan is reaching fever pitch.

Du Plessis can certainly feel this excitement and is thrilled to be playing a part in re-shaping the cricket landscape in Pakistan.

“As a captain, you always look for things to try and leave your mark in what you do in a team. I thought this was a great opportunity for me when the coach (Andy Flower) phoned me and said he’d like me to captain this side,” Du Plessis said.

“In a few years’ time when I look back at my career, it would be nice to look at ways where you had your footprint in the game of cricket, whether it would be in your own team as captain (or another team). This will certainly be something that in few years’ time when I sit down with my family (I will remember fondly).

“This will be something that I can say was a huge honour to be a part of. Looking back on my career, it’ll be great to say that I made an impact on bringing international cricket back to Pakistan.”

 

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