The Afghanistan cricket team's participation in the ICC Under-19 World Cup in the West Indies is in a jeopardy as the players from the Taliban-run nation are yet to procure visas for the global event.
With the team yet to reach the Caribbean shores, the ICC had to cancel the team's two scheduled warm-up games against England (Warner Park) on Monday and the UAE on January 12. Afghanistan's first game in tournament proper is on January 16 against Zimbabwe.
"The Afghanistan squad is yet to arrive in the West Indies due to delays in obtaining the necessary visas, whilst discussions attempting to resolve the issue are ongoing," the ICC said in a statement.
While the ICC is yet to confirm the issue that has led to visa problems, its head of Events Chris Tetley said that they are trying to resolve the crisis.
"The Afghanistan squad is yet to arrive in the West Indies due to delays in obtaining the necessary visas, whilst discussions attempting to resolve the issue are ongoing," Tetley was quoted as saying. "We have been working together with the Afghanistan Cricket Board and relevant stakeholders to try and find a resolution to the problem and allow the team to travel," he added.
Tetley didn't mention categorically who the "stakeholders" are and what exactly is the issue. To travel to the West Indies, most people need US transit visas and since the hostile takeover of the nation by the Taliban, international travel from that region hasn't exactly been a cakewalk.
"In the meantime, we have rescheduled the warm-up fixtures to ensure the teams in the region are able to continue their preparation ahead of the start of the tournament on 14 January," Tetley further added.
England will now play UAE at Conaree Cricket Centre on January 11.