Sandeep Lamichhane asks ECB for 'clear answer' after visa issues scupper his Hundred plans
Sandeep Lamichhane has urged the ECB to give him "a clear answer" after visa issues ruled him out of the Oval Incincibles' side for the inaugural season of the Hundred.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Lamichhane said he was "extremely gutted" to miss the tournament - having previously been ruled out of the Vitality Blast at short notice because of similar reasons - and said that he had "followed all the instructions given to me by ECB officials".
Cricday revealed on Monday that Lamichhane had been told that his £60,000 contract with Invincibles was in doubt despite the fact that he was close to completing his mandatory ten-day quarantine in London following his arrival from Nepal, and the ECB confirmed on Wednesday that he had been replaced in the squad by Tabraiz Shamsi.
"When I applied for the Tier 5 visa, I was told that one Certificate of Sponsorship [COS] would be enough for my gig at Vitality Blast and the Hundred," Lamichhane said. "Due to COVID-19 situation, there was a delay in my visa and Worcestershire pulled out but it was again communicated to me by officials that as long as I come into the UK before July 10, I would be okay as my COS was still active.
"I came in the UK by July 9, had no issues whatsoever at the immigration and moved into the government managed quarantine facility to complete my quarantine. On July 18, two days before my quarantine completion, I was told by ECB that may visa is not valid and I have to leave the country ASAP. I have been asking what went wrong but apparently no-one at the ECB have the correct answer. I can totally understand that things can go south at any time, however I at least deserve a clear answer on why my valid visa is not valid anymore.
"I left a lot to be part of this exciting tournament and totally pray and wish the best for all teams out there. I always got love from the lovely people of UK and I would urge ECB to look into the matter so that no-one else has to go through this ordeal. I can also feel for my people who were so looking forward to my participation in this amazing tournament. There will be better days ahead."
It is understood that while Lamichhane was able to enter the UK through a valid visa, that visa did not entitle him to play in the Hundred. He worked with the ECB to try and rectify the issue, but was told that the timeframe to re-apply would be too long for him to play in the competition.
An ECB spokesperson told Cricday: "We are really disappointed that Sandeep isn't able to play in the first edition of the Hundred due to visa issues. We hope cricket fans will be able to see him in action in the competition in the future."
Shamsi, Lamichhane's replacement, is the No. 1 T20I bowler in the world in the ICC's rankings, and is expected to be available for six group games following South Africa's series in Ireland. The Invincibles will field only two overseas player in the opening men's match - Sunil Narine and Colin Ingram - with Middlesex's Nathan Sowter likely to play in Lamichhane's absence.
Benjamin replaces injured Hose at Phoenix
Elsewhere, Birmingham Phoenix have suffered a late withdrawal from their men's squad, with Adam Hose missing the tournament because of a foot injury. He has been replaced by the 22-year-old Warwickshire wicketkeeper-batter Chris Benjamin, who made 60 not out off 34 balls on his T20 debut for Birmingham Bears on Sunday and provides keeping back-up to Chris Cooke. The Phoenix expect Tom Abell, who has missed the last month with a hamstring injury, to play "a big part" in the tournament, though his availability for their opening game is unconfirmed.
Daniel Vettori, the Phoenix men's coach, said: "We've had a lot of good reports about Chris from our local contacts at Warwickshire and he played a fantastic innings on Sunday, which was even more impressive given that it was his senior debut. Whilst he is still very young, we want to build a squad that can grow together and consistently challenge for the Hundred title year after year." Vettori's backroom staff has also been boosted by the addition of Ian Bell as an additional assistant coach.
Jamie Overton and Richard Gleeson's withdrawals through injury have been confirmed, with Dan Douthwaite and Calvin Harrison signed by Manchester Originals as replacements. Brad Wheal, the Hampshire seamer, is a temporary replacement for Mark Wood at London Spirit. In the women's competition, Hannah Baker has replaced Bethan Ellis at Welsh Fire and Northern Superchargers have signed Liz Russell as a temporary replacement for Helen Fenby.