England cricketer Shoaib Bashir travels back to UK to sort visa issue, Stokes says he is 'devastated' for youngster

The off-spinner of Pakistani heritage, who plays for Somerset in the English county, was with the squad in Abu Dhabi but couldn't proceed to India as he is yet to be granted visa.
England cricketer Shoaib Bashir.
England cricketer Shoaib Bashir.Photo | somersetcricketofficial Instagram

HYDERABAD: England captain Ben Stokes is absolutely "devastated" that rookie off-spinner Shoaib Bashir's arrival in India for the five-Test series has been delayed due to lingering visa issues that forced him to return home from the team's Abu Dhabi training base.

The 20-year-old lanky off-spinner, who plays for Somerset in the English county, was with the squad in Abu Dhabi but couldn't proceed to India as he is yet to be granted visa.

Bashir's family is of Pakistani heritage.

Bashir, who is a shock inclusion in the squad with a mediocre 10 wickets from just six first-class games, was never in contention for a place in the squad for the opening Test starting here on Thursday.

"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," England captain Ben Stokes told select British media here during an interaction on Tuesday.

"Especially for a young lad, I'm devastated for him," the celebrated all-rounder said.

India captain Rohit Sharma, in his pre-match press conference here on Wednesday, said he hoped to see the youngster in action soon.

"I feel for him. He is coming, I think, for the first time. Unfortunately I don't sit in visa office to make the decision. Hopefully, he will make it here soon," Rohit said.

Australian opener Usman Khawaja also faced a similar situation when he arrived late for the Test series in India.

While Bashir is expected to get the stamp of approval from Indian High Commission in London, the turn of events left Stokes a tad irked.

"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," Stokes said.

Another player of Pakistani origin, Saqib Mahmood, couldn't travel to India in 2019 for an 'A' series.

England and Wales Cricket Board's MD (Operations) Stuart Hooper was in the UAE to speed up the procedure but it didn't get the desired result.

"I find it frustrating that we have picked a player and he's not with us because of visa issues. It's a frustrating situation to be in but a lot of people have been trying to get it through," Stuart Hooper.

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