RAWALPINDI: English cricket captain Ben Stokes on Monday announced he would donate his match fee from an upcoming Test series against Pakistan to the country’s flood relief efforts to “give something back that goes far beyond cricket.”
The English team is currently in Pakistan to play a three-match series against the host, starting in Rawalpindi on December 1. This is the first Test that England will be playing against Pakistan after a hiatus of 17 years. The second Test will be held in Multan from December 9-13 and the third in Karachi from December 17-21, respectively.
The Test series comes months after Pakistan was hit by floods which affected 33 million people. The deluge killed more than 1,700 people and inflicted billions of dollars of damage. Pakistani authorities' estimates of the damage have varied from $10 billion to $40 billion.
“This is great to be in Pakistan for the first time for this historic series. To be back here after 17 years as a Test side is very exciting. There is a sense of responsibility amongst the playing and support group and to be here is special,” Stokes wrote on Twitter.
“The floods that devastated Pakistan earlier this year was very sad to see and has had a significant impact on the country and the people. The game has given me a lot in my life and I feel it’s only right to give something back that goes far beyond cricket.”
Appreciating the gesture, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked the English team captain.
“Empathy for suffering humanity is the greatest of all virtues. His gesture epitomises the great British tradition of philanthropy.”
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also welcomed the English team to Pakistan after 17 years and thanked British High Commissioner to Pakistan Christian Turner for making the tour possible
“We welcome England team, who will be playing test matches on soil after such a long hiatus. It’s a result of the relentless efforts of all the ppl involved to make this happen, especially Chargé d'affaires Christian Turner. Hoping for a great contest btw the two quality sides,” Sanaullah wrote on Twitter.
Last year, England were due to visit Pakistan but pulled out after New Zealand abandoned their tour minutes before the first one-day international, citing security alerts.
There were fears of a similar pullout earlier this month following an attack on former prime minister Imran Khan during a protest march in Wazirabad, a city in Punjab province.
But England’s Test skipper Ben Stokes quashed all fears following positive security advice.
“It’s been a long time since England have played Test cricket in Pakistan,” Stokes said in Abu Dhabi on Friday.