Ben Stokes proposed delaying England's flight to India after Shoaib Bashir's visa issue

The 20-year-old couldn't make his Test debut in Hyderabad due to visa delays

By Web Desk
January 24, 2024
Stokes expressed clear dissatisfaction with the treatment of his young teammate - AFP/Somerset

England captain Ben Stokes suggested delaying the team's flight to India until Shoaib Bashir's visa issues were resolved. However, he acknowledged that there was "never a chance" of jeopardising the first Test.

Bashir, a British Muslim of Pakistani heritage, couldn't make his Test debut in Hyderabad due to visa delays. The 20-year-old had to return home from Abu Dhabi, where the team had a pre-series training camp, as his teammates continued to India.

Upon learning of Bashir's visa troubles, Stokes initially proposed that the squad stay together in a display of solidarity. This idea was short-lived, considering the tight schedule, and postponing the game was impractical. Nevertheless, Stokes expressed clear dissatisfaction with the treatment of his young teammate.

"When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn't fly until Bash gets his visa but that was a little bit tongue in cheek," he said at his pre-match press conference.

"I know it's a way bigger thing, doing that. That was probably just (my) emotions around the whole thing. There was never a chance that we were not going to travel around this but Bash knows he's had our full support.

"I'm pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this. As a leader, as a captain, when one of your team-mates is affected by something like that you do get a bit emotional.

"I know he's back in London and a lot of people are jumping through hoops to try and get this through quicker. Hopefully we're going to see him here over the weekend."

India captain Rohit Sharma extended sympathy to Bashir, who has been brought into the limelight and forced to fly almost 10,000 additional miles to obtain the paperwork that other players received as a matter of course.

"I feel for him honestly," said Sharma. "Unfortunately I don't sit in the visa office to give you more details on that but hopefully he can make it quickly, enjoy our country and plays some cricket as well. It's not easy for anyone, it could be one of our guys wanting to come to England and being denied."

Lancashire's Saqib Mahmood, whose parents are originally from Pakistan, had to be withdrawn from an England Lions tour of India in 2019 after similar delays. In 2023, Australia opener Usman Khawaja also arrived late for his country's Test trip.

Furthermore, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wrote to the International Cricket Council late last year expressing concerns about waiting times for World Cup visas.

England sought assistance from counterparts at the BCCI, with new operations manager Stuart Hooper leading negotiations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). However, they were informed that Bashir needed to present his passport in person at the Indian High Commission in London.