Shoaib Bashir enjoys ‘special day’ on debut after putting visa turmoil in past | England in India 2024

Shoaib Bashir insisted his visa turmoil was firmly behind him after multiple flights to rectify the issue were followed by a memorable first day as a Test cricketer.

The 20-year-old was grounded at the end of England’s pre-series training camp in Abu Dhabi, his Pakistani heritage seemingly forcing the need for his passport to be stamped back in the UK and seeing him ruled out of plans for the first Test.

But having racked up the air miles, flying back to London and arriving in India last Sunday to witness his new teammates take a 1-0 lead, opening his Test account with the wicket Rohit Sharma, amid figures of two for 100 from 28 overs, saw all that evaporate.

“I had no doubts at all I’d get here,” said the 20-year-old, whose chance in the second Test came after an injury to Jack Leach. “I always knew I’d get the visa. It was a bit of a hassle but I’m here now and I got to make my debut. That’s all that matters really.

“I was pretty chilled to be fair. I knew it would get sorted so thanks to the ECB and the BCCI for sorting it out quite quickly. We’re here now. Getting Rohit out first up is very special, he’s a very good player of spin – one of the greatest in the world. I just let it all out. It’s just the passion. I love playing cricket, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”

This was a “special day” said Bashir, not least given his battle to catch the eye of first-class counties initially. First came club cricket at Guildford CC, then time in the youth setups of both Surrey and Middlesex. But it was not until a spell playing for Berkshire in 2022 that Somerset noted his promise and offered a deal.

The England call-up? That was sparked by Ben Stokes catching a clip of his attributes – his 6ft 4in frame and good purchase on the ball – while bowling to Alastair Cook last summer, the first step on a fast-tracking to first a Lions camp and then a Test tour.

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Asked what Stokes told him before taking the field on Friday, Bashir replied: “He basically just said: ‘Remember why you started playing the game, remember your family, go out there and show what you’ve got. We already know, we’ve already seen you, so go out and do what you do best.’ Those words helped me massively with my confidence.”

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