Uncapped off-spinner Shoaib Bashir, who is of Pakistan descent, has returned to England to sort out his visa issues, and as a result, he will not be with the team for the first Test against India in Hyderabad, starting Thursday (January 25). He was due to travel with the team to India from Abu Dhabi, where England held a training camp ahead of the Test series, but was left stranded due to visa issues.
England captain Ben Stokes has expressed frustration over such unforeseen delays. "I find it particularly frustrating," Stokes said.
"We announced the squad in mid-December, and now Bash finds himself without a visa to get here. I am more frustrated for him. 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. I feel for him."
Bashir is not the first cricketer to face such issues. Last year, Pakistan-born Australian opener Usman Khawaja's visa was delayed ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. In fact, the entire Pakistan squad faced similar problems when they were headed to India for the ODI World Cup.
Rehan Ahmed, too, is of Pakistan origin, but had secured a visa when he was a reserve player for the World Cup and, as a result, faced no problems on that front this time around.
"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.
"I find it frustrating that we have picked a player, and he's not with us because of visa issues. Especially for a young lad. I'm devastated for him.
"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."
In Bashir's absence, England might ponder playing all their spinners in the XI in Hyderabad, with Jack Leach leading the way, alongside Rehan and uncapped Tom Hartley. However, if England decide to play two seamers, one of either Rehan or Hartley will be entrusted to partner Leach.
Stokes has confirmed the return of Ben Foakes, who will don the gloves with Jonny Bairstow playing as a specialist batter after Harry Brook withdrew from the series due to personal reasons.