HYDERABAD: Ben Stokes briefly toyed with the idea of walking away from the Test series in protest after Shoaib Bashir's visa process had run into problems.
The England captain admitted it was a tongue-in-cheek reaction but the whole ordeal has left him 'frustrated'. "When I first found the news out in Abu Dhabi, I did say we shouldn't fly until Bash gets his visa," he told reporters ahead of the first Test. "But that was a little bit tongue in cheek. I know it's a way bigger thing than doing that. That was probably just emotions around the whole thing. I'm pretty devastated that Bash has had to go through this.
"As a leader, as a captain, when one of your teammates is affected by something like that, you 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 gonna see him here over the weekend. There was never a chance that we were ever not going to travel around this but Bash knows he's had our full support."
Bashir, a player with Pakistani heritage, was with the squad that had a training camp in the UAE. However, he didn't travel with the others as he waited for his documents to come through. It's now emerged that he has gone back to London. "My feelings towards it haven't changed," Stokes added. "It's obviously a frustrating situation, more importantly, for him. We announced our squad mid-December. It's now January 24 and he still doesn't have the visa."
Around mid-day London time on Thursday, Bashir finally got his Indian visa and is expected to join the team around the mid-week before the squad departs to Visakhapatnam for the second Test from February 2. On Wednesday, it had been reported that Bashir had to be physically present in London to get his visa.
It's understood that Rehan Ahmed, the other player in this team with a Pakistani heritage, already had everything in place as he was a standby at the World Cup last year. India captain Rohit Sharma termed it unfortunate. "I feel for him, honestly," he said. "Unfortunately, I do not sit in the visa office to give you more details on that, but hopefully he can make it quickly, enjoy our country and play some cricket as well."
This of course isn't the first time that something like this has happened. Last year, Usman Khawaja, both of whose parents were born in Pakistan, arrived at a later date as there was a delay in the visa being approved. Other English players too have faced issues with Moeen Ali, an Indian Premier League (IPL) regular, coming late two years ago.