County news May 8, 2012

Starc deported over visa error

Mitchell Starc, the Australia left-arm quick, will not be able to make his Yorkshire debut this week after being deported following a visa error that initially led to him being detained at Heathrow for more than four hours.

He has been instructed to fly halfway around the world, fill in a couple of forms correctly and then fly all the way back again. His girlfriend has been allowed to stay in England.

During Tuesday, Yorkshire were still hopeful of clearing up the situation but late in the afternoon Starc tweeted: "Well that's a first! Being deported from England.. Surely nothing else can go wrong can it?!?!" He expanded later: "Visa issue. Incorrect communication from aus. Will be straight back to UK ASAP once sorted.

Starc aims to be available for next week's match against Hampshire. What phsyical state he is in remains to be seen.

Colin Graves, Yorkshire's chairman, put the blame on Starc's agent. "The whole thing to be honest is a fiasco," he said. "This to me just shows that you get good agents and bad agents, and this agent hasn't done a proper job.

"We've got everything right, and Cricket Australia will look at it and say he's got what's required, and after that it's down to the agent. You can't blame the English authorities, they've got rules and regulations, and he didn't have the proper paperwork."

With Yorkshire mired in debt, Graves insisted that he would not be paying the return air fare. "We've told them straight, we're not paying the airfare again," he added. "We paid originally but now it's down to them."

Yorkshire had initially blamed Cricket Australia for filling out an incorrect visa form, bringing swift denials that they were not involved in the visa application process.

"Mitchell is on annual leave and decided to organise a short-term contract with Yorkshire. It has absolutely nothing to do with us," a CA spokesman told AFP. "We have sent plenty of people to England and know all the requirements. Saying that, we have made it clear that if Mitchell needs our help, we are happy to do that."

The latest visa delay - three West Indies cricketers have also been held up by visa issues ahead of their tour of England - brings into question whether UK visa policy is quick and flexible enough to deal with elite sportsmen and women who regularly come and go to the UK on profesisonal sports contracts.

Yorkshire's frustration follows their stand-off with their England pace bowler, Ajmal Shahzad, who has upped sticks to Lancashire after a long-running dispute over his reluctance to bowl in the approved style.

Earlier Yorkshire's captain, Andrew Gale said: "I don't think Australia filled out a form correctly when he was out in the West Indies, and he spent four or five hours being questioned in the airport. If we can't sort it out, we'll have to drop him at Heathrow on the way down to Bristol."

Yorkshire will definitely have Tim Bresnan available for his third Championship match of the summer after England decided that he would benefit from another bowling workout ahead of the first Test against West Indies at Lord's next week.

Starc was due to play four Championship matches in a deal that, initially at least, only lasts five weeks. He could conceivably be called up for Australia's ODI series in England between June 21 and July 10, and a subsequent Australia A tour between July 27 and August 17.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo