London: Custodian of cricket laws, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), has announced a 12-member squad dominated by English County regulars to play three matches in Pakistan next month under the captaincy of its current president Kumar Sangakkara.
The Club will play two PSL teams – Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans – in the T20 format and will also face Pakistan’s domestic T20 champions Northern.
The MCC squad includes experienced England all-rounder Ravi Bopara, who switched from Essex to Sussex this winter and has most recently been playing in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Warwickshire contributed three players to the squad with Michael Burgess, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Will Rhodes all included. Hannon-Dalby and Rhodes toured Nepal with MCC in November.
Somerset’s Roelof van der Merwe, who will play for Lord’s-based London Spirit in the inaugural Hundred competition later this year, is named alongside his Netherlands teammate Fred Klaassen.
Scotland duo Michael Leask and Safyaan Sharif, Leicestershire’s Arron Lilley, Kent’s Imran Qayyum and Worcestershire’s Ross Whiteley complete the main squad.
Test cricket returned to Pakistan after more than 10 years with the Sri Lankan team playing in a two-match series last December.
John Stephenson, MCC assistant secretary (Cricket) said: “We are thrilled to be able to name a strong squad for this tour, which blends youth and experience for a strong side of high quality.
“We have really appreciated the collaborative approach from the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Pakistan Super League, which has enabled us to arrange fixtures against sides preparing for this year’s PSL tournament as well as to secure the services of some of those participating.”
Major Test-paying nations have avoided touring Pakistan since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, which killed eight people and injured several players. Bangladesg are currently in Pakistan for a limited-overs matches.
The tour was finalised following a full investigation into security measures and assessment into the viability of the trip.
Stephenson added, “As a Club, we share the PCB’s wish in wanting to see international teams returning to play in Pakistan on a regular basis and we hope that this tour contributes to those objectives.”
MCC’s on-field presence will be boosted further by three additional players, each of whom will play one match for the Club during the tour.
The trio — Liam Dawson, Samit Patel and Phil Salt — is preparing to represent teams in this year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) and their involvement is part of a collaboration between MCC and the tournament organisers.
The concept of an MCC tour to the country has been a long-stated aim of its World Cricket committee. Following the attack on the touring Sri Lanka team’s bus, Pakistan’s home Test matches were played on neutral venues such as the UAE.
MCC chief executive and secretary Guy Lavender will accompany the squad as team manager, with Ajmal Shahzad providing coaching.
Kumar Sangakkara (captain), Ravi Bopara, Michael Burgess, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Fred Klaassen, Michael Leask, Arron Lilley, Imran Qayyum, Will Rhodes, Safyaan Sharif, Roelof van der Merwe, Ross Whiteley.