Usman Khawaja's wife Rachel has given a very telling reaction after visa issues prevented young England bowler Shoaib Bashir from entering India for the first cricket Test. Bashir was forced to remain in the UAE when the rest of the England squad flew to India this week, and the 20-year-old has since been forced to return home to the UK.
Bashir experienced troubles with his visa because he was born in Pakistan - a similar situation experienced by Khawaja in 2023. Khawaja (also born in Pakistan) had to remain in Australia when the rest of the team flew to India for a four-Test series early last year, but was eventually given clearance to enter the country at the 11th hour.
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Unfortunately for Bashir he hasn't been so lucky. The spinner was the only member of the England touring party to experience a significant delay over his application, and remained grounded after a training camp in Abu Dhabi while his teammates transferred to Hyderabad.
England cricket officials had hoped the matter could be resolved in the UAE, but a solution was not found and the 20-year-old had to return home. The ECB called in assistance from its counterparts at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and it is understood Bashir was told he needed to return to London with his passport to receive the correct approval at the Indian embassy.
Bashir had been unlikely to feature in the playing XI in the first Test, but the setback has cost him a potential debut for England nevertheless. England captain Ben Stokes expressed his regret about how things had played out.
"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. Especially for a young lad, I'm devastated for him," he said. "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. I find it frustrating that we have picked a player and he's not with us because of visa issues."
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A spokesperson for the Prime Minister in England said the British government could not “speak to the process and what’s happened in this individual case”, but they had raised the broader issue with the Indian government. “Our position is that British citizens should be treated fairly when going through this process,” the spokesperson said.
Khawaja's wife Rachel simply re-posted a story about Bashir on social media and wrote: "Mmmm." In 2011, Khawaja wasn't permitted to enter India to play in the T20 Champions League for NSW because he was not born in Australia. However he has been cleared to enter the country in other formats on other occasions.
The visa process for entry into India usually asks applicants whether they or their parents are of Pakistani origin. Approval into India can often be complex and time-consuming.
The situation around Bashir and Khawaja came after Lancashire player Saqib Mahmood had to be withdrawn from an England Lions trip after similar problems back in 2019. The Pakistan Cricket Board also wrote to the ICC ahead of the recent World Cup to complain about hold-ups in its squad's visas for the tournament in India. Some of the country's media representatives and supporters also had trouble getting in.
Shoaib Bashir should be on the verge of playing the first test match for his country. A momentous occasion for anyone to receive their first cap. A reward for the years of hard work and dedication
That will not happen because the Indian Government are a disgrace. Racism. Simple
— Liam (@LiamWBAFC) January 23, 2024
After Usman Khawaja, England's Shoaib Bashir becomes the second player to have visa issues with India.
Both the players are of Pakistan descent.
Bashir is set to miss the first test because of it.
— Parth MN (@parthpunter) January 23, 2024
The India vs England series should be postponed till Shoaib Bashir gets his visa ✔️@JayShah & @BCCI cannot decide who England will play in the Test. They cannot rule out a player based on his religion, race or background. Shame on you guys 🇮🇳👎🏽👎🏽👎🏽 #INDvsENG @englandcricket
— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) January 23, 2024
It's quite damning that @ICC have said diddly sod all on the treatment of Shoaib Bashir. Shame, supposed guardians of the game.
— Ric (@espionaricpoet) January 23, 2024
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