World XI captain Faf du Plessis spoke movingly about his experience in Pakistan; the generosity of the people of Pakistan and seeing how much the series meant to them was the standout features of the tour, he said. Though the visitors were defeated by 33 runs in the 3rd T20I to lose the series 2-1, it was clear from the way du Plessis and team coach Andy Flower spoke at the press conference that the goodwill that has emanated from this tour will not be sullied by the outcome.
But in a move that is even more likely to endear the World XI to Pakistani hearts, du Plessis jokingly praised Lahore's cuisine as his fondest memory of the tour. Lahoris take their food seriously, and it looked like du Plessis had found out why.
"The food was very good, top-drawer food. But seriously, I just loved seeing the emotions on people's faces, that's something that stood out for me, how much it meant for the people of Pakistan. That goes way beyond what you do on the cricket field," he said. "You look around the field and every person says thank you very much for coming, and you see the generosity comes from a deep place in their hearts. That's the most special thing to be a part of."
Flower thanked Pakistan's people for their hospitality and said it had made the World XI feel right at home. "We've been extremely well looked after, we go home on Saturday with memories that I hope the boys will cherish for the rest of their lives," Flower said. "This tour is another reminder of the fact that cricket transcends boundaries. The way Pakistani people and the crowd, particularly at this ground, cheered for us at the end of the second game which we won, and beat their national side, they made us feel right at home.
"We had said that this was more than just the cricket tour, the public showed their appreciation and the players interacted with the crowds at the hotel and at the ground, and the security agency proved that they can provide a safe and secure environment. I really hope this tour will inspire the young people in Pakistan; they've seen some of the best players across the world live in action and this might be the beginning of the cricketing journey of the next Hashim Amla or Faf du Plessis. One thing which I think we should all remember is that these are baby steps and I'm sure that Pakistan board will take one safe and steady step at a time."
Du Plessis also echoed Flower's thoughts about the importance of not getting carried away with one tour. "It's really important you take each thing one at a time and plan specifically for every tour," he said. "So whatever is the next step, [you need to put in] the same amount of energy and time and resources to make sure that it is planned as smoothly as this was. If you do out all those things, then definitely another step, another step, another step, to hopefully bring cricket back into Pakistan."
With five South African players part of the visitors' playing XI for each of the three games, there was speculation about the possibility of South Africa coming to Pakistan for a tour, but du Plessis has repeatedly batted away suggestions that something of the sort is in the works. At the first press conference after landing in Lahore, he said he would have retired by the time South Africa seriously consider touring Pakistan next; now, he spoke of how a South Africa tour of Pakistan was not something in his control.
"That won't be my decision. I can just relate my experiences over here, but there will have to be a complete different set of things put in place for South Africa to come and tour here. What I can say is the fact that we've been in Lahore here now and we did feel safe. I'm sure if there was an opportunity to come here and they saw all the procedures that are put in place and the feedback we as a players give, then that could be option."