India vs England Test Flashback: English team's India tour was cancelled due to visa issues

India vs England Test Flashback: English team’s India tour was cancelled due to visa issues

England appointed Graham Gooch as the captain of the Test team during the 1988 home season.

Graham Gooch in 1988
Graham Gooch in 1988. (Photo by Patrick Eagar/Patrick Eagar Collection via Getty Images)

England were down in the Test format ahead of the 1988 home season having won none of their 14 matches and none of the 11 home Test matches they played in the 1986 and 1987 seasons. Their troubles continued when Windies toured for a 5-match series and the mighty Caribbean side returned home with a 4-0 win. In this situation, England appointed Graham Gooch the captain ahead of the one-off Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s and won that by seven wickets to end their Test win drought.

A week later, the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB) announced a young side with Gooch as captain for the upcoming 5-match Test series in India. But the touring party had problems straight away as eight players including Gooch were not granted visas by the Indian Government due to their sporting links with South Africa. The Indian High Commissioner in Britain then announced that this issue shouldn’t be a surprise given their resolutions and agreements towards UN policy and the Government of India‘s policy with regard to apartheid in South Africa.

Blacklisted players

Kim Barnett, Alan Lamb and Philip Newport were named in the UN blacklist for playing in the previous winter while John Emburey, Robert Bailey, Graham Dilley and Robert Robinson were also on the same list as they featured for various South African clubs in earlier seasons. Their skipper Graham Gooch was already under the scanner for being part of the 1982 Rebel Tour of South Africa which earned him a 3-year ban from International cricket.

The main reason why their visas were held up by the Indian Government is believed to be due to Gooch’s appointment as the skipper of the team as he had intentions of playing the sport in South Africa. He was already a part of two Rebel tours in South Africa and also had a winter contract with the Western Province. The TCCB held unsuccessful discussions with the Indian cricket board and were reluctant to make changes to the squad and to exclude the players who were in question.

On October 7th, TCCB confirmed that the India tour was cancelled and that they are in talks with New Zealand for an alternative arrangement. A tour comprising of two Tests and a Triangular ODI series was slated for late February with Pakistan being the 3rd team in the tournament.

However, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) soon refused to play against England and this tour was also cancelled on 22nd December. Later, Pakistan arranged a bilateral tour with New Zealand with three Tests and four ODIs between January and March.

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