English village cricket club opens its arms for Haider

London: The Lashings World XI, an English village cricket club, on Thursday issued an open invitation to troubled Pakistan wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider to join the Kent-based team for the 2011 season.

Haider, who retired from international cricket and seeked political asylum in Britian after fleeing from the Pakistan team hotel in Dubai on Monday after receiving death threats, could join compatriot Rashid Latif and Zimbabwean pacer Henry Olonga in the club.

Rashid, also a Pakistan wicketkeeper, and Olonga, who had protested against the political establishment of Robert Mugabe, joined the club after taking refuge in Britain.

Olonga had protested against the “death of democracy” in Zimbabwe by wearing a black armband during the 2003 cricket World Cup match.

“We’d love to have him in the team. We’ve been trying to contact him, via text, phone and e-mail and our door is always open to him,” Lashings chairman David Folb was quoted as saying in the club’s website.

The club side, which travels across the country and play exhibition matches for charity, also have other International cricketers incluiding West Indies’ Richie Richardson, Graeme Hick of England and Pakistan players Mohammad Akram and Azhar Mahmood.

“At Lashings we have a long and proud tradition of offering help to those in need,” Folb said.

“During and after the 2003 World Cup, Henry Olonga faced the very serious threat of assassination if he’d stayed in Zimbabwe and he’s been with us ever since.”

“Rashid Latif is another member of the Lashings family and he was treated as a pariah by certain people because he stood up for what he believed was right and said no to match-fixing.”

“We believe Zulqarnain would feel at home with us,” he said.