Jimmy Neesham looks the prime New Zealand contender to be selected for the World XI to play a Twenty20 cricket series in Pakistan next month.

The Herald understands the Black Cap has been offered US$100,000 to stay for less than a week in Lahore as part of a 15-man Andy Flower-coached squad. The team will prepare for a week beforehand in Dubai.

The Pakistan government has promised presidential-level security for the tour. The team has been touted as comprising players from all top test-playing countries. An International Cricket Council security unit is expected to visit Lahore on August 26 and 27 as part of the vetting procedure. The ICC have granted the matches full international status with the Pakistan Cricket Board covering all tour expenses.

New Zealand's last tour to Pakistan was when the Chris Cairns-led one-day international side lost 5-0 in December 2003. A bomb in Karachi ended the May 2002 test tour.


Neesham's selection can only be thwarted if New Zealand Cricket refuse to issue a "no objection certificate".

Any ICC-sanctioned event needs a NOC by way of compliance from respective members.

Players can be denied a NOC on the basis of player welfare, as happened when Ross Taylor wanted to play for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League on New Year's Day too soon after his last game for Central Districts.

Alternatively, an NOC can be withheld if there are injury concerns, or if national duty intervenes.

Arbitration would otherwise be required to resolve any potential "restraint of trade" issues. If NZC grant Neesham permission to play, it is likely to come with a disclaimer that they will shoulder no liability for his travel, such as the cost of insurance.

Neesham recently played 14 matches for Kent in England's T20 Blast competition. His side finished mid-table in the South group and missed the quarter-finals.

The 26-year-old all-rounder scored 203 runs from 11 innings at an average of 29 and strike rate of 128; he took 14 wickets at an average of 33.07, strike rate of 21 and economy rate of 9.41.

Daniel Vettori and Grant Elliott are among the former New Zealand players approached about appearing in the World XI series.

Vettori confirmed he would not be involved.

Elliott said he was available for selection. He is currently captaining Warwickshire in England's T20 Blast. They play their quarterfinal against Surrey on Saturday morning.

The World XI matches mark the third time international players have visited Pakistan since the March 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus.

Zimbabwe embarked on a limited overs tour in May 2015, and the final of the Pakistan Super League was held at Lahore in March. A number of contracted overseas players, including Quetta Gladiator Nathan McCullum, opted out.

"This is a very big thing," PCB chairman Najam Sethi told a media conference this week.

"We need your prayers and we will open the doors and international teams will come. Pray that we keep our security solid."

Former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent led a group of players to train at Lahore's national academy when he was working as Hong Kong batting coach in January 2012.

At the time - and before he suffered a life ban for match-fixing - he spoke to the Herald on Sunday about returning to the country he was evacuated from a decade earlier.

"We were treated like royalty, right from immigration to the hotel. Safety is still a big aspect of operating there. Roadblocks and checkpoints are everywhere."
However, the environment was not devoid of fun.

"We arrived at the academy from the airport about 6pm and stumbled upon a spontaneous match of tapeball cricket on a makeshift 18-yard pitch in the garden out front.

"Groundsmen downed tools, a couple of policemen rolled the arm over and one security guard put down his gun, grabbed the bat and played a reverse sweep first ball, casual as you like."