LAHORE: Former England cricketer Paul Collingwood, who is a part of World XI visiting Pakistan for a three-match Twnety20 International series, believes that there is no dearth in passion or spirit among cricket fans in Pakistan. Speaking at a press conference, the 41 year old said that he felt like a kid at Christmas. “I’m 41 years old and to actually have the feeling of being in a Twenty20 International again is something I am very excited about,” he added. Reflecting on his memories having played in Pakistan earlier, Collingwood said: “The last time I came to Pakistan, I understood that cricket is a religion here. The passion and the atmosphere that you get in the ground is something special. I experienced that in Karachi in 2005.”
Regarded as one of England’s sharpest fielders, Collingwood admitted that he was nervous about playing international cricket after a gap of half a decade. “I am very proud, I can tell you right now. I came out of the net session a couple of days and it felt like I was playing international cricket again. That, to me, when I retired back in 2011 and to have that same feeling again, that anxiety and that intensity when you play for your country and they all come back again, so I am very excited about playing.”
The atmosphere at Lahore during the first T20I was electric - which Collingwood cited as a “small stepping stone for future cricket in Pakistan.” “I think the intensity was there. Obviously, the crowd wasn’t 100 percent capacity but the noise they make, you can just sense in the ground that they were really enjoying Pakistan playing the game in their own country and you can sense something special. The reception that was afforded to the World XI was at the ground and on social media by the cricket-loving nation has been excellent. Hopefully this is a small stepping stone for future cricket in Pakistan.”
Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.