Boucher to play alongside Lara

Mark Boucher only has three more test matches left in his long and illustrious career before he retires from international cricket after the England tour in August. Who knows whether he may figure in further ODIs but he is scheduled to play one more international T20 match…of sorts.

South Africa’s long-serving gloveman is set to play for an International XI against an Asian XI in a one-off T20 match in Toronto on May 12.

The match is sanctioned by both Cricket Canada and the ICC and is being played primarily to raise the profile of cricket amongst those who have not previously followed the game in the region, but also to provide a first-hand sighting of some top international cricketers to a huge local community of primarily Asian and Caribbean descent which is hooked on the game.

The ongoing IPL complicated the situation as far as strength was concerned because the Asian XI was able to call upon all of Pakistan’s players (who are ineligible for the IPL) while the International XI was restricted to only those without an IPL contract and three recently retired stars in Brian Lara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Stuart MacGill.

The venue is one of the most impressive in Canada – the 40 000 seater Rogers Centre, home to the famous Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.

Although the players on both sides are being paid reasonably, it’s fair to say that no more than a handful are participating for the money – and certainly none of the bigger names. “It’s just a great opportunity to see somewhere new, play alongside some new teammates and experience a whole different atmosphere,” Boucher said. “I’m genuinely excited – it should be a lot of fun.”

So there. Just when you thought the fun had gone out of international cricket. But that’s not to say the game won’t be competitive: “I’ve never played a game of cricket in my life where I haven’t tried to win,” Boucher says with usual steely glint.

TEAMS

Asian XI: Mohammad Hafeez (Pak), Sanath Jayasuriya (SL), Nasir Hossain (Bang), Hammad Azam (Pak), Umar Akmal (Pak), Misbah-ul-haq (Pak), Shahid Afridi (Pak), Chanaka Welegedera (SL), Saqlain Mushtaq (Pak), Sunil Joshi (Ind), Saeed Ajmal (Pak). Coach: Mushtaq Ahmed (Pak).

International XI: Brian Lara (WI), Devon Smith (WI), Rizwan Cheema (Can), Ashish Bagai (Can), Mark Boucher (SA), Brendan Taylor (Zim), Jacob Oram (NZ), Stuart MacGill (Aus), Tim Southee (NZ), Tino Best (WI), Kyle Mills (NZ). Coach: Grant Flower (Zim)

 

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