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Visa issues prevent Bermuda cricketers from travelling to India

Setback: Bermuda’s preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League Play-off have been disrupted after six players failed to travel for a camp in India (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda’s preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League play-off were thrown into disarray when six players were not on the Thursday flight leaving the island.

Captain Delray Rawlins, Tre Manders, Chris Douglas, Allan Douglas Jr, Derrick Brangman and Zeko Burgess were unable to secure visas to enter India for a pre-tournament training camp before proceeding to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Bermuda Cricket Board executive director Cal Blankendal blamed glitches on the Indian immigration website for the calamity.

“On the Indian immigration site, you can apply for a visa online,’’ Blankendal told The Royal Gazette.“It says that British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies can apply. Those with Bermuda passports only tried to apply for the visa, and once they went in, the application was rejected the first time around.

“Those with British passports, they went back and used British passports, their applications were approved.

“We applied for a second and even a third time, and the Bermuda passport was rejected.

“We went to Government House, they advised us to speak to the High Commission of India in London. They sent us to the Immigration Department of India, they sent us back to the immigration portal, but at the end of the day, they didn't recognise the Bermuda passport online to acquire a visa.

“We went to the ICC as well, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but nobody was willing to help us.

“Delray Rawlins was unable to travel. He has a British passport, but his British passport application was rejected three times.

“We’re not sure why his British passport was rejected. Again, that’s something out of our hands. We had to cancel their airline tickets to travel to India; otherwise, we would have lost about $30,000.”

Faced with the challenges, the BCB still made a last-minute effort to try get the players to make their way to India, but was still not successful.

“We never gave up the process. We did it until we knew that there was no opportunity to do it,” Blankendal said.

“We even sent a request for Delray Rawlins since he has a British passport to see if he can get to India — even it’s two days later to do something — but, again, the three applications were rejected, so there will be no fourth application.

“It’s better for him to train here in Bermuda and leave on Thursday [February 15] with the rest of the players for Malaysia.”

The mainstay of Bermuda’s batting line-up and two of their key bowlers will continue training indoors at the Bermuda High School for Girls. Arrangements are now being made for the six players to travel to Malaysia next week, arriving a few days before the rest of the team.

Only ten players including original standby selection Jermal Proctor left to compete in four matches against local teams and a side from United Arab Emirates.

That means 48-year-old assistant coach Janeiro Tucker, who still plays for Somerset occasionally when required, could be called into action in the four training matches, with the Indian academy providing the reserves in those fixtures.

In Malaysia, Bermuda face Italy in their first group A match on February 22, Saudi Arabia on February 25 and Kuwait on February 26.

“We’re now looking to get the players to leave on February 15,’’ Blankendal added.

“They will go to Malaysia directly and arrive three days before [the group in India] get there. They’ll do some training and they’ll join up with the rest of the team to play at least one or two matches before the tournament starts.

“While they’re in Bermuda, they’ll be training twice a day at BHS with our domestic coaches.

“They will not have the Indian training camp but they will still be training prior to leaving Bermuda.

“We had to bring in Jermal Proctor so that we have at least ten players to play in India.

“There could be an opportunity for someone like Janeiro Tucker to make our XI and the academy will provide us with the reserves.”

Asked if they had considered cancelling the trip to India, Blankendal pointed out that the camp on the sub-continent provides the players with an excellent opportunity to train outdoors.

“There was no need to call off the Indian camp because it’s better to have ten players training at a high level,” he said.

“It’s a level higher than Bermuda, similar conditions to Malaysia. Better that than to keep the entire team here because six people are unable to travel.

“We’re only training indoors in Bermuda. We’d rather have the team training at the highest level, and six training at 50 per cent capacity, rather than keeping the whole team training at 50 per cent capacity.”

Bermuda were relegated to the bottom rung of qualifying after finishing winless from 15 matches over a three-year cycle that ended Kamau Leverock’s reign as captain.

Bermuda and Italy will be heavy favourites to reach the Super Six stage, from which the top four finishers will qualify for the next cycle of the Challenge League, which will feature 12 teams.

Hosts Malaysia and Vanuatu head group B, which also includes Tanzania and Bahrain.

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Published February 10, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated February 11, 2024 at 8:35 pm)

Visa issues prevent Bermuda cricketers from travelling to India

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