LONDON                   -            Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) President Kumar Sangakkara would be leading the club’s 12-man squad to tour Pakistan next month, to play a series of matches.

It is a clear demonstration of the Club’s support for Pakistan’s cricketers and fans, who have been affected by the country’s decade-long exile from hosting international cricket, which came to an end last month. The MCC’s squad includes experienced all-rounder Ravi Bopara, who switched from Essex to Sussex this winter and has most recently been playing in the Bangladesh Premier League.

Warwickshire contribute 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 would 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.

MCC’s on-field presence would 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 were preparing to represent teams in this year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL) and their involvement is part of collaboration between MCC and the tournament organisers.

The Club would play two PSL teams Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans in the T20 format and will also face Pakistan’s domestic T20 champions Northern. 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,” quoted him as saying.

He also appreciated Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and PSL for arranging fixtures against sides preparing for this year’s PSL tournament. “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,” he said. MCC Chief Executive and Secretary Guy Lavender would accompany the squad as Team Manager, with MCC Head Coach Ajmal Shahzad providing coaching.

Three players Liam Dawson (Hampshire/Peshawar Zalmi), Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire/Lahore Qalandars) and Phil Salt (Sussex/Islamabad United), who would appear in upcoming PSL, will each represent MCC in one match on the tour.