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'How dare you?': India accused of being a 'pathetic disgrace' as England spinner's visa blocked

23rd January, 2024
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23rd January, 2024
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India have been labelled ‘obviously terrified’ of young English spinner Shoaib Bashir after the 20-year-old offie was forced to return to the UK due to visa problems.

Bashir, is of Pakistani heritage, was left stranded in Abu Dhabi following England’s training camp as he had not been approved to travel to Hyderabad. He will now miss the first Test, which begins on Thursday.

The English media is up in arms: the Daily Mail back page simply read “How Dare You”, directed at India, while The Telegraph‘s sports lead on a call for England to boycott the match in solidarity with their rookie, who has now been ruled out.

“It is a shameful humiliation of a blameless player, and one that his England team-mates should punish in Hyderabad by refusing to take to the field,” wrote chief sports writer Oliver Brown.

“The significance of this moment can hardly be understated. India has effectively concocted a method of determining which players can and cannot play for England based on their race. This is indefensible, and it demands to be met with the strongest response.

“The demeaning of one of their players for reasons not of his making should be treated as an affront to them all.”

Bashir had been waiting with a member of England’s support staff in the Middle East but will now go home to England awaiting further news from the Indian High Commission in London.

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The matter has escalated as high as the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, with a statement released by Downing Street.

“We do expect India to treat British citizens fairly at all times in its visa processes,” it read.

“And we have previously raised issues of British citizens with Pakistani heritage. We’ve raised the issues that some have raised about their experience applying for visas with the Indian High Commission in London.”

The representative of the British Parliament’s All Party Group for Cricket – a lobbying ground of MPs and Lords – called it a ‘disgrace’ that Bashir had been unable to secure a visa.

“The most exciting young spinner in world cricket has been left languishing at border control – they were obviously terrified,” said Tom Hunt MP.

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Bashir is far from the first player of Pakistani extraction to fall victim to India’s visa rules, with Moeen Ali and Saqib Mahmood also struggling to gain entry to play for England, as well as Australia’s Usman Khawaja.

The Pakistan Cricket Board made an official complaint to the ICC during the World Cup after their journalists were not issued visas to cover the team at the tournament.

“I’m devastated for him,” said captain Ben Stokes.

“As captain I find it particularly frustrating that we have picked a player and he’s not with us because of visa issues.

“We announced that squad in mid‑December, and now Bash finds himself without a visa to get here. 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. 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.”

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England applied for Bashir’s visa on December 11, along with all other players, and every member of the touring party was approved.

Bashir’s first class record is far from stellar, with 10 wickets at 67 in the County Championship, but he is seen as a bright light for the future thanks to his extreme height – 193cm – and his prodigious spinning ability.

Ironically, his replacement could be another player of Pakistani heritage, leggie Rehan Ahmed, who was able to travel having previously been granted a visa as a standby player during last year’s World Cup.

The other option would be Tom Hartley, a left arm off-spinner, who would make a Test debut.

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