AB de Villiers — the 34-year-old South African cricket star who was perhaps the most dominant batsman of his era — retired from international cricket in May of last year, as Cricket.com reported. But it appears that de Villiers is not finished making an impact on the sport. On Monday, he announced that he will play two T20 matches in Lahore, Pakistan, in March — making him the highest-profile non-Pakistani cricketer to play in the country since a 2009 terrorist attack caused most international teams, and players, to boycott the country due to security fears.
Like many retired international cricket stars, de Villiers continues to take part in, and collect a healthy paycheck from, franchise T20 leagues in several countries. In the 2019 edition of Pakistan’s own such competition, the Pakistan Super League, de Villiers will join the Lahore Qalandars squad, as ICC.com reports.
While in the fourth edition of the PSL, the majority of matches will be played in the United Arab Emirates — as have most of Pakistan’s international matches since the 2009 incident. The Qalanders will play twice in their home city, on March 9 and March 10. Star cricketer de Villiers will play in those games.
“I am fully aware that cricket is like a second religion in Pakistan,” de Villiers said, as quoted by the South African site Sport 24. “I feel I have a role to play in helping international cricket return to Pakistan. These have been some of the motivating factors for me to return to Lahore.”
The PSL tournament will open in the UAE on February 14, according to CricBuzz. But the final eight games of the 34-match schedule will take place in Pakistan, including the four playoff matches that will determine the PSL’s 2019 champion.
As the Inquisitr has reported, Pakistan has been largely avoided by foreign teams and famous players since an attack in Lahore on March 3, 2009. At that time, gunmen fired upon a bus carrying the Sri Lankan national team to the third day of a Test match against the Pakistani team.
The attack killed six police officers, and injured seven Sri Lanka players and team officials, according to a Guardian report at the time.
The Zimbabwean team played a brief series of three one-day matches in Pakistan in 2015, and in September of 2017, several prominent South African players — including Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, and Imran Tahir — took part in a World XI all-star team that played three T20 matches in Lahore, as News 18 reported.
The West Indies team also played three T20 matches in Karachi last April, per CricBuzz.