Shaoib Bashir was told he needed to return to London with his passport to receive the correct approval at the Indian embassy; Bashir hopes to return to India by the weekend but will miss the first Test, starting on Thursday
to resolve visa issues />
Image: Shoaib Bashir, pictured playing for Somerset, will fly back to the UK to resolve visa issues and miss the first Test
Unease over the treatment of young England spinner Shoaib Bashir has escalated on the eve of the Test series in India after he was forced to fly home to resolve visa complications.
Bashir, a 20-year-old British Muslim of Pakistani heritage, was the only member of the touring party to experience a significant delay over his application and remained grounded after a training camp in Abu Dhabi while his team-mates transferred to Hyderabad.
The England and Wales Cricket Board had hoped the matter could be resolved in the United Arab Emirates – where its managing director of operations Stuart Hooper remained with Bashir – but a solution was not found.
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Image: Shoaib Bashir made his first-class debut for Somerset this year and took 10 wickets in his six matches
The ECB called in assistance from its counterparts at the Board of Control for Cricket in India 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.
Although Bashir had been unlikely to feature in Thursday’s first Test, he has formally been taken out of contention for a debut due to the setback. It is hoped he will be reunited with the squad at some point over the weekend.
Image: Shoaib Bashir was a surprise addition to England's squad for the India Test series
“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,” captain Ben Stokes said. “Especially for a young lad, I’m devastated for him. 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. I find it frustrating that we have picked a player and he’s not with us because of visa issues.
England vs India: Test fixtures
First Test, Hyderabad: Thursday January 25 – Monday January 29
Second Test, Visakhapatnam: Friday February 2 – Tuesday February 6
Third Test, Rajkot: Thursday February 15 – Monday February 19
Fourth Test, Ranchi: Friday February 23 – Tuesday February 27
Fifth Test, Dharamshala: Thursday March 7 – Monday March 11
“It’s a frustrating situation to be in but a lot of people have been trying to get it through. It’s unfortunate and I’m very frustrated for him. With Bash unfortunately not able to be here, it rules him out of this game.”
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “I can’t speak to the process and what’s happened in this individual case. I’m not aware we’ve had the details of this case raised with us by individuals involved and individual cases would be a matter for the Indian government themselves. But we have raised the issue more broadly and our position is that British citizens should be treated fairly when going through this process.”
Former England seam bowler Steven Finn says the upcoming tour of India will be the toughest test the side has faced.
Root to open the bowling?! Stokes ready to go with his gut
Stokes is weighing up an England debut for spinner Tom Hartley and is even considering throwing the new ball to Joe Root as he tries to find a winning formula in Hyderabad.
England have promised to do things differently as they look to unseat a team who have lost just three of their past 46 Tests on home soil and captain Stokes remains fully committed to pushing the boundaries of ‘Bazball’.
Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton look ahead to England’s Test series in India and compare the difference in experience in the spin attacks.
Stokes is not yet fit to bowl after recovering from knee surgery and his confirmation that Ben Foakes would return as wicketkeeper and bat at seven means there are only four bowling slots to play with.
While James Anderson and Mark Wood are still likely to share pace duties, the possibility of going all in on spin by picking Hartley as well as the established Jack Leach and teenager Rehan Ahmed is being openly discussed.
Nasser Hussain discusses pitch choice in England’s upcoming Test series against India and what to expect as the two different playing styles meet.
So too, improbably, is the idea of using Root’s part-time off-breaks as a wildcard at the start of the innings.
“It would be a complete and utter ‘gut’ thing, as most of my decisions like that are,” said Stokes. “You might even see Rooty taking the new ball, depending on what I feel. If (left-hander) Yashasvi Jaiswal opens the batting, you might see Rooty opening the bowling because it’s spinning away from the bat.
“When picking the team it’s about what you think is going to give you the best chance of winning and who is going to offer you more in certain conditions.
Nasser Hussain says Harry Brook’s withdrawal from England’s Test tour of India is ‘a big blow’ but insists duty of care is the priority.
“India is one of those places where you’ve got to think about selection a lot more than anywhere else in the world because of what you can get from the wicket.”
Hartley was identified as a player who could cause problems with his height and skiddy trajectory and Stokes appears increasingly tempted to put the selectors’ hunch to the test.
“I’ve done plenty of tours here and think I would have some idea around what a bowler can look like here who will be successful,” Stokes added. “Tom is someone who’s obviously very tall, he bowls at a very difficult pace to be able to handle out here and he’s someone who gets a lot of natural variation.”
Follow England’s five-Test series in India across Sky Sports’ digital platforms with live blogs and reports. The opening game is in Hyderabad from Thursday (4am UK time). Watch all the best live sport and more with NOW.