England cricketer of Pakistani heritage sent home from tour after Indian visa issue

UK

England spinner Shoaib Bashir has been forced to fly home to resolve Indian visa complications – an issue Ben Stokes has described as “frustrating”.

Bashir, a 20-year-old British Muslim of Pakistani heritage, was the only member of the touring party to have a significant delay over his application and was forced to stay in Abu Dhabi after a training camp.

The England and Wales Cricket Board had hoped the matter could be resolved in the United Arab Emirates – where its managing director of operations Stuart Hooper remained with Bashir.

The ECB asked for help from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and it is understood Bashir was told to return to London to receive the correct approval at the Indian embassy.

Although Bashir had been unlikely to feature in Thursday’s first Test, he has formally been taken out of contention for a debut due to the setback.

Captain Stokes said: “I didn’t want this type of situation to be his first experience of what it’s like to be in the England Test team.

Image:
England’s captain Ben Stokes (Pic: AP)

“Especially for a young lad, I’m devastated for him.

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“As captain I find it particularly frustrating. We announced the squad in mid-December and now Bash finds himself without a visa to get here.

“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.”

The Somerset prospect is the latest cricketer of Pakistani descent to face difficulty getting into India, with Usman Khawaja belatedly joining Australia’s tour of the country last year and Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood withdrawn from an England Lions trip after similar problems back in 2019.

The Pakistan Cricket Board, meanwhile, wrote to the International Cricket Council ahead of the recent World Cup to complain about hold-ups in its squad’s visas for the tournament in India.

Some of the country’s media representatives also had trouble.

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