GEORGE DOBELL – EXCLUSIVE: There are growing concerns that player availability in the T20 Blast and The Hundred will be affected, as there are few signs of improvement in a system that is struggling to cope with the impact of the war in Ukraine
A delay in issuing visas threatens the availability of domestic cricketers in England and Wales.
At present, the problem is most evident in recreational play where hundreds of clubs are still awaiting their overseas professionals for the 2022 season. will also be affected, as there are few signs of improvement in a system that is struggling to cope with the impact of the war in Ukraine.
Although there has in the past been the option of paying extra for a “fast track” visa, it appears that this option is currently not available (those who apply are still welcome to apply, but are then compensated), which effectively means that professional and recreational players are likely to face delays of similar duration.
The cricketer knows a player from Sri Lanka, who is still waiting for a visa which he applied for in March.
“It’s chaos,” an agent told The Cricketer. “The government says the crisis in Ukraine caused the problem and it probably didn’t help. But the system has always been under-resourced.
The Hundred could still be impacted by Home Office visa delays [Getty Images]
“The season is well under way now and clubs and players are missing. I know of a club who, taking into account accommodation costs, have probably lost around £3,000 so far. And I have a player who is at risk of losing his house in Sri Lanka because he hasn’t been able to earn any money for several weeks. There are hundreds of players in the same position.”
With The Blast starting in eight days and The Hundred to follow later this summer, players (and their agents) are urged to apply for visas as soon as possible. One of Warwickshire’s foreign players, Australian designer Nathan McAndrew, missed the first two rounds of the LV = Insurance County championship campaign.
There are also fears that the situation could compromise the ability of leisure clubs to organize programs such as All Stars. In many cases, overseas pros run these sessions as part of their club deals. With most visa applications requiring players to obtain an ECB Tier 2 coaching qualification while in the UK, agents also fear that unless the situation is resolved shortly it will become difficult to achieve.
“We are aware of the challenges that delays in the visa application process present to recreational gambling, in particular,” an ECB spokesperson told The Cricketer.
“This is not a cricket specific issue and we are working with other sports governing bodies and the Home Office to find an appropriate solution in the circumstances.”
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