English cricketer returns to the UK to resolve visa issues
Spinner Shoaib Bashir (pictured above) has returned to the UK in order to deal with a visa delay that is preventing him from joining the England squad in India.
The uncapped 20-year-old, who is of Pakistani descent, was initially left in Abu Dhabi when the rest of the team travelled on Sunday. Bashir is still to receive the visa and will not be in India until at least the weekend, meaning he will miss today’s first Test in Hyderabad.
India hasn’t played any bilateral cricket against Pakistan since 2013 because of political tensions between the two countries.
Bashir, a surprise inclusion in the England Test squad after playing only six first-class matches, is not the first cricketer with links to Pakistan to struggle to gain access to India.
Australia opener Usman Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan, had his arrival for a Test tour last year delayed, while the entire Pakistan squad for last year’s World Cup in India faced similar delays.
England captain Ben Stokes said: “I find it particularly frustrating, we announced the squad in mid-December, and now Bash finds himself without a visa to get here.
I am more frustrated for him. 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. I feel for him.”
Bashir’s fellow England spinner, Rehan Ahmed, is also of Pakistani origin, but has a visa held over from last year as he acted as reserve for the World Cup squad.
Stokes went onto say: “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. It’s a frustrating situation to be in, but a lot of people have been trying to get it through. It’s unfortunate and I’m very frustrated for him.”
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government expects British citizens to be treated fairly by India’s visa processes.
I can’t speak to the specifics of this case. But more broadly we have previously raised issues of this kind with the High Commission. We have been clear that we expect India to treat British citizens fairly at all times in its visa processes.
They added: “We have previously raised the issues British citizens with Pakistani heritage have experienced. We’ve raised the issues about their experience of applying for visas with the Indian High Commissioner in London.”