Rubel denied immigration clearance to fly to South Africa

Rubel Hossain's double-strike jolted the hosts Getty Images

Fast bowler Rubel Hossain could not travel with the Bangladesh Test squad to Johannesburg on Saturday after he was denied a boarding pass by the airlines. Rubel remained in Dhaka and, while his availability for Bangladesh's three-day warm-up match against SA Invitations XI - from September 21 - is in doubt, the Bangladesh Cricket Board is confident he will be available for the Test series, which starts from September 28.

Even though Rubel had a valid visa like his team-mates, the South Africa immigration authorities have a new provision in which, despite anyone having a visa, they issue "Okay to board" assurances to the airlines, specifying who can fly. Rubel's name was missing from that list. Akram Khan, the BCB's cricket committee chairman, attributed the situation to a mistake in the visa issued to Rubel.

"The South Africa visa office made a mistake in his visa," Akram said. "It has to do with his date of birth. It will take a day or two to correct everything. He can go before the Test series. He is an important player, so we cannot deprive him because of miscommunication."

BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury, too, said that the board was communicating with Cricket South Africa while the airlines were also aiding them to quickly resolve the issue.

"There is a new provision that the passenger needs to have an 'Okay to Board' clearance from the ultimate destination. It is the responsibility of the concerned airlines before issuing the boarding pass to any individual," Chowdhury explained. "We are in touch with Cricket South Africa and hopefully, the matter will be resolved soon. He will fly to South Africa with the first available flight once the matter is resolved."

Rubel was one of three players - alongside Subhasis Roy and Mahmudullah - to have earned a recall in the Bangladesh Test side. There are, however, four other fast bowlers in the touring party, including Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam and Subashis, that Bangladesh can rely on.