De Villiers says ‘time is right’ to play in Pakistan


LONDON: South Africa´s AB de Villiers hopes his involvement in this year´s Pakistan Super League will encourage the world´s best players to return to the country.

Pakistan have had to play most of their ´home´ games in the United Arab Emirates since a 2009 attack on Sri Lanka´s team bus in Lahore, although the West Indies did tour Pakistan in April last year.

But former Proteas captain De Villiers will become arguably the most high-profile overseas cricketer to play in Pakistan for a decade should he, as planned, feature in two fixtures in the PSL in Lahore on March 9 and 10.

“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.”

De Villiers, however, all but ruled himself out of playing in England during this year´s World Cup, which starts in May.

South Africa have never won the World Cup, but De Villiers — whose 31-ball century against the West Indies at Johannesburg in 2015 remains the fastest one-day international hundred — said: “I feel I´ve made the right decision to retire.

“If they (South Africa) do approach me — and I don´t think that will happen — we´ll have a conversation and I´m pretty sure that I will be staying over here and supporting the team.”