It is not every day that you get to travel abroad and play the sport you love as part of a star-studded squad captained by a player who scored over 28,000 runs in international cricket.
However, over the next week or so Scotland caps Michael Leask and Safyaan Sharif will have that opportunity having left these snowy shores on Wednesday to travel to Lahore in Pakistan to team up with the MCC squad.
The MCC will be skippered by Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara and Lahore Qalandars will provide the first opposition in a floodlit T20 match at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.
Lahore can boast Pakistan international stars such as Shaheen Afridi and Fakhar Zaman amongst their ranks for this year’s edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Pakistan Shaheens – effectively the national ‘A’ team – will then play the MCC in a 50-over match at Aitchison College two days later.
The club will then switch back to T20 for matches against Pakistan’s domestic T20 champions Northern (next Monday) and Multan Sultans of the PSL (next Wednesday), the latter who will include England’s Moeen Ali and James Vince in their squad for the tournament which begins shortly after the MCC tour.
“I just can’t wait to get out there,” 29-year-old spinning all-rounder Leask, who has played 34 ODIs and 31 T20Is for his country to date, stated.
“To go to such a cricket mad country for the first time and play with and against some great players in different conditions than I am used to will be a great experience for me.
“Just looking at some of the names on the squad list, with Kumar Sangakkara obviously standing out, is a bit surreal and it is just an honour to be asked to be a part of it.
“We won’t have long to gel as a squad before the first game, but I am sure everyone will come together as a group quickly and I am looking forward to playing my part.
“It is also great to be heading out to Pakistan with Saffy [Sharif] who I have known for a long time now and who I know is excited to be heading back to a country where a lot of his family are from.
“I am sure he will be able to give me some tips about the conditions and we can hit the ground running.”
As mentioned by Leask, 28-year-old seaming all-rounder Sharif has connections with Pakistan and has played out there a few times in the past.
He has 44 ODIs and 42 T20Is under his belt for Scotland so far and stated: “It will be great to be back in my homeland with the MCC.
“I was last back in Pakistan three years ago so this will be a brilliant opportunity to catch up with family ad also play some top level cricket.
“It will be amazing to have Kumar Sangakkara as captain and I’m sure we will all take a lot from that experience, but also there are other guys in the group with great pedigree who I hope to learn from ad take things from into a busy 2020 with Scotland.
“The conditions will be different and that will be good for testing out skills I have been working on over the winter while I know that Leasky [Leask] is very excited for the trip and it will be great for me to be able to show him some of Pakistan and share the experience with him.”
Kumar Sangakkara (President/Captain)
Guy Lavender (Tour Manager)
John Stephenson (Assistant Manager)
Ajmal Shahzad (Head Coach)
Ravi Bopara (Sussex)
Michael Burgess (Warwickshire)
Oliver Hannon-Dalby (Warwickshire)
Fred Klaassen (Kent)
Michael Leask (Scotland)
Aaron Lilley (Leicestershire)
Imran Qayyum (Kent)
Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)
Safyaan Sharif (Scotland)
Roelof van der Merwe (Somerset)
Ross Whiteley (Worcestershire)
The following three players, who will appear in the upcoming Pakistan Super League, will each represent MCC in one match on the tour:
Liam Dawson (Hampshire/Peshawar Zalmi)
Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire/Lahore Qalandars)
Phil Salt (Sussex/Islamabad United)
MCC tour schedule:
Friday, February 14: Lahore Qalandars v MCC (T20)
Gaddafi Stadium, 5.00pm PKT/Noon GMT
Sunday, February 16: Pakistan Shaheens v MCC (50 overs)
Aitchison College, 9.30am PKT/4.30am GMT
Monday, February 17: Northern v MCC (T20)
Aitchison College, 12.30pm PKT/7.30am GMT
Wednesday, February 19: Multan Sultans v MCC (T20)
Aitchison College, 12.30pm PKT/7.30am GMT)