LONDON- Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal have joined several other leading international cricketers in being confirmed for this year’s Lord’s bicentenary match, it was announced on Monday.
Bangladesh batsman Tamim Iqbal will also take part in the July 5 fixture which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the current Lord’s ground in north-west London. The match will be between Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which owns Lord’s, and a Rest of the World XI. The MCC XI will be captained by India hero Sachin Tendulkar while the Rest of the World side will be led by Australia great Shane Warne.
All the three Asian stars confirmed Monday for the fixture have enjoyed previous success at Lord’s. Afridi, arguably the most dynamic batsman of his generation, produced a match-winning performance when he made 54 not out in Pakistan’s 2009 ICC World Twenty20 final victory over Sri Lanka at Lord’s and also played his last Test at the ‘home of cricket’ a year later. Off-spinner Ajmal also played in the 2009 World Twenty20 final.
Meanwhile Iqbal has a coveted place on the Lord’s honours board having, as a 21-year-old, made 103 in the second innings of the first Test against England in 2010 — the first century at the ground by a Bangladeshi batsman. That match, his only previous appearance at the ground, also saw Iqbal make 55 in the first innings. “Lord’s is always a wonderful place to play cricket and I’m really looking forward to going back there,” said Afridi in a MCC statement.
“It’s going to be great to be involved in the Lord’s Bicentenary celebrations and I’d like to thank MCC for inviting me to take part in the game. “There are plenty of great players on the team sheet for this match and I can’t wait to share a pitch with them again - especially in such an amazing setting.”
MCC president Mike Gatting, the former England captain, added: “The latest names to be confirmed for this match make it even more of an exciting prospect. “MCC has asked the best players in world cricket to come and celebrate the Lord’s Bicentenary by playing in this match and I’m delighted that three more have accepted. “It shows the standing of the club and this marvellous ground that players of the quality of Shahid, Saeed and Tamim want to come and be part of these celebrations.”
Australia wicket-keeping great Adam Gilchrist, India’s Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, West Indies’ mainstay Shivnarine Chanderpaul and New Zealand left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori are all due to play in the match as well. MCC, founded in 1787, moved to its present site in the north-west London suburb of St John’s Wood in 1814, with the ground owned by entrepreneur Thomas Lord — hence its name.Although it is more than 40 years since MCC ceased to run English cricket, it retains worldwide responsibility for the game’s ‘Laws’, as cricket’s rules are known.