Saqlain asks British MP for help

Friday, June 8, 2007

LONDON: Pakistan’s off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq has enlisted the help of his Member of the Parliament to end the frustrating wait to make his English cricket county Sussex bow.

He is not able to make first-class debut at Hove after signing a two-year contract in March until his British citizenship is accepted, a passport issued and he becomes qualified as an EU player.
The passport forms were submitted in April and passed the citizenship test but his application is waiting to be processed by the Home Office.

He met with Sadiq Khan, Labour MP for Tooting, who promised to take up his case.
“No one knows how long it will take but there is quite a long backlog so I will have to be patient,”
said Saqlain.

“I did the citizenship test on a computer. It was quite difficult but I passed. I didn’t have to learn the national anthem, just answer questions about function of the Parliament and things like that.”

If the passport came tomorrow, Saqlain is confident he could play next day which is a testament to the hard work he has put in to get himself match fit in last three months.

He played the last of his 49 Tests and 161 ODIs for Pakistan in 2003-04 and the huge part he had in Surrey’s dominance of domestic cricket in the late 1990s seems nothing more than a pleasant memory for him now.

“It’s very frustrating waiting. Everyone is playing. I can only watch. But if the passport came through today I would be able to play tomorrow.”

Sussex signed Saqlain with 2008 rather than this season in mind. Neither Mushtaq Ahmed nor Rana Naved are contracted beyond this season and the county will have to make difficult decision at end of it as only one overseas player per county is allowed next year.

There is a possibility Saqlain will not be able to play any first-team cricket this season, depending on how near he is top of the pile at the Home Office.

If that is the case, he is considering spending three months in Australia in the winter playing competitive grade cricket to get himself ready for next season.

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