Home » Shoaib Bashir forced to return to UK after ‘absolutely outrageous’ India visa delay

Shoaib Bashir forced to return to UK after ‘absolutely outrageous’ India visa delay

The situation was slammed by former England captain Michael Vaughan, who labelled the failure “absolutely outrageous” and said the authorities had robbed the uncapped bowler of a special moment in a potential debut in India.

“I think it’s outrageous, I honestly do,” Vaughan told Telegraph Sport’s Vaughany and Tuffers Cricket Club podcast.

“The squad was announced on December 11. This is a young guy who’s been picked for his country for the first time, he’s played a little bit of cricket for Somerset, he’s an exciting talent. He goes to Abu Dhabi on the proviso that he’s going to do 10 days’ preparation, he gets on a plane and he’s going to go to India potentially to play his first Test in Hyderabad.

“He bowls well in Abu Dhabi, and then the day the plane’s leaving to go to India he’s told ‘sorry, you can’t get on’. He has no idea that this is going to be the case while he’s in Abu Dhabi training and preparing, impressing the England management. Whispers are that he’s impressed so much that he had a chance of playing in the first Test – I don’t know whether that’s right or wrong – but I think it’s absolutely outrageous.

“You’ve got this young guy who now has to fly back to the UK to sort it out. What is that doing to the young kid? I just think it’s absolutely outrageous that a young player has gone through that and he’s gone to Abu Dhabi and he sees a group of team-mates getting on a plane and he can’t get on the plane with them. Madness.”

Ben Stokes, England’s captain, sympathised deeply with Bashir and regretted that this was his first taste of life with the Test side.

“Especially as captain I find it particularly frustrating. We announced that squad in mid-December, and now Bash finds himself without a visa to get here,” Stokes said.

“I feel for him. But he’s not the first cricketer to go through this, I have played with a lot of people who have had the same issues. I find it frustrating that we have picked a player and he’s not with us because of visa issues. Especially for a young lad, I’m devastated for him.”

Bashir is the only member of England’s touring party – including travelling officials and media – who has had significant trouble securing a visa, but other cricketers with Pakistani backgrounds have had trouble entering India in the past. Ahead of last year’s Australia tour, Usman Khawaja, who was born in Islamabad, was made to wait for his paperwork, while the Pakistan national team were also delayed entering the country for the 2023 World Cup.

By contrast, Dan Lawrence, a late call-up to the England squad after Harry Brook returned home for personal reasons, has breezed into the country at short notice.

Rehan Ahmed, the other England player with Pakistani heritage, managed to secure a visa before the Test squad was named, because he had existing documentation after being on standby for last year’s World Cup.

Brendon McCullum, the head coach, optimistically said on Monday that England were confident that “with help from the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] and the Indian government that it will sort itself out pretty quickly”. McCullum’s confidence may have come from the fact that Jay Shah, who runs Indian cricket as the honorary secretary of the BCCI, is the son of the minister of home affairs Amit Shah.

Bashir was always a long shot to feature in the first Test, having played just six first-class matches, but made a major impression at the camp in Abu Dhabi. Without him, England will need to decide how many of their remaining spinners to play. Jack Leach is certain to be joined by Joe Root, with the uncapped Tom Hartley and Ahmed competing for the final spot, unless the pitch dries out considerably before the toss.

Stokes confirmed that Ben Foakes would regain the gloves from Jonny Bairstow, who moves back to No 5, the slot Brook has made his own in recent times.

“He [Foakes] can not only do things other keepers can’t but also make them look incredibly easy,” Stokes said. “So having someone like that behind the sticks is useful, especially if we do find ourselves in conditions where the ball is spinning. He’s a very special talent behind there and having someone like that can maybe take a two per cent, three per cent chance that could be massive in the series.”


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