Indian batting stalwart Cheteshwar Pujara will have to wait until next week to make his county debut for Sussex, as delays in issuing his visa have meant he will not be available for the first LVInsurance County Championship match of the season.
Sussex performance director, Keith Greenfield said on the issue of the delay in the visa that given the current global scenario, it was getting tough to get foreign players into England.
“Securing overseas players has been tremendously difficult in the current climate. We renegotiated the initial Pujara contract so he could return for more County Championship and Royal London Cup matches, and this subsequently changed the visa requirements,” said Greenfield late on Monday.
Pujara had replaced Australia’s Travis Head in the Sussex team for the County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup competition. Following a request by Head to be released from his contract due to increased international commitments along with the news that he and his partner were expecting their first child, the club had agreed to it and replaced him with Pujara for the majority of the 2022 season.
Sussex said that the club had been in regular contact with Pujara and have been working “tirelessly” to enable him to be available for the first game of the season against Nottinghamshire.
“However due to delays in issuing his visa, the overseas batsman will not be available until next week,” Sussex said.
“On top of this, the Ukraine crisis has meant that the Home Office redirected their resources to help with the displacement of Ukrainian citizens. We were expecting Pujara to be with us last weekend but can now confirm he will be here at the back end of this week,” added Greenfield.
Pujara will still be available for five rounds of County Championship cricket out of the first six fixtures as agreed, starting with Derbyshire next week. He will also be returning later in the season for the Royal London Cup, and some additional four-day games.
Sussex head coach, Ian Salisbury said, “Of course I am extremely disappointed that we will not have a player of Pujara’s experience and quality to be available for the opening day of the season, but we must move on and now focus on the game ahead of us.”
Sussex start the season hosting Nottinghamshire on April 7.