England cricket writers forced to leave Australia by visa expiry

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Three English cricket writers were forced to leave Australia before the end of England's disastrous cricket tour because their visas had expired. The men, John Etheridge of The Sun, Paul Newman of The Daily Mail and Dean Wilson of The Mirror had 90-day, non-renewable visas which expired when the tour still had several days left to run.

The England tour party arrived in Australia on October 25th 2013 and played their first game from 31st October until November 2nd. At this point, England were considered to be the favourites to win the tour, having recently beaten an Australian team that toured England by three tests to one.

But it was not to be. The England team was thrashed in the test series by five matches to nil. It has since lost both the one day and the Twenty20 series. At the time when the journalists left Australia, England were 3-0 down in the one day international series with two matches to play.

Subclass 400 visas

The problem arose because the three journalists had Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (subclass 400) visas. These visas are for people wanting to visit Australia to 'do short-term, highly specialised, non-ongoing work'. They last for 90 days and cannot be renewed or extended so the three were not able to stay to witness England's humiliation completed.

Cricket Australia made representations to the Australian government on behalf of the men, requesting that they be allowed to stay until the end of the tour but Australian immigration was unmoved.

Etheridge said 'I have been on six previous Ashes tours and not missed a day of any. Now Dean Wilson and I will have to leave by Saturday'. Mr Newman will be able to stay for a few days more because he arrived in Australia a few days later.

No response from Abbott

He told The Australian newspaper 'Cricket Australia have been very helpful but to no avail. I have been tweeting [Australian prime minister] Tony Abbott but had no response'.

He told The Guardian, an English newspaper, 'We have hotels booked, expenses will be paid, so it's not as if we will be taking anything out of the country. It's just the intransigence of the Australian immigration department.'

Mr Etheridge said Australia was 'a beautiful country often suffocated by rules and regulations'. He continued 'We wanted to stay long enough to see our side beat Australia once'.

Solitary victory

Ironically, England won their only victory of the tour in the match following Mr Etheridge and Mr Wilson's departure. They beat Australia in the fourth one day international in Perth on 24th March.

But, thereafter, England's losing streak continued. They went onto lose the fifth one day international and all three twenty over games as well.

The England team returned home on 3rd February after the disastrous winter 'down under'; it will take them some time to rebuild their confidence and hopefully recover from this.

England in disarray

The England test cricket coach, Andy Flower, resigned last week after the lamentable performance of his team and star batsman Kevin Pietersen, who top-scored on the tour was, somewhat surprisingly, told that he would never play for England again.

Sanwar Ali of workpermit.com said 'it is unfortunate that the men applied for subclass 400 visas which cannot be extended. It is surprising that this problem has not arisen before. Cricket tours have always been immensely long and Australia is a cricket-playing country. Perhaps Australian immigration will amend the terms of the 400 visa; if not it seems extremely likely it will happen again.'

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