Home time for English cricket journalists

Three English cricket journalists have been told it’s time to go home by the Australian government, before the close of play.


The men have been on assignment in Australia, following the England team as they lost the Ashes and then the one day series.

But despite reassurances from Cricket Australia that they would be able to remain in the country and cover the full tour, the men will have to leave as their 90-day visas expire.

It means John Etheridge, correspondent for UK tabloid The Sun, will have to leave on Saturday and miss the final 50-over fixture in Adelaide on Sunday plus three Twenty20 matches still scheduled for the England team tour.

“We would like very much to have covered those four more games … but we have been advised after a lot of communication through Cricket Australia to the Immigration Department that the matter is now closed,” Etheridge told AAP from Perth where he is preparing to cover Friday’s fourth ODI.

“It seems amazing to us that Cricket Australia organises a tour for 100 days but we can only stay for 90 days.”

The office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the journalists were aware of the conditions attached to the visas when they applied.

“It is understood the individuals were advised that the duration of their visas would be insufficient,” a statement said.

“Like anyone else who comes to Australia, they have to comply with the terms of the visa they have been given which means it will be time to go home.”

Etheridge said he and colleagues Dean Wilson of The Mirror and Paul Newman of The Daily Mail have known of the problem throughout the tour but were told Cricket Australia was confident of resolving the issue.

“It is very frustrating,” he said.

“It kind of offends my sense of professional duty. I want to finish the job. I’ve covered six Ashes tours and I’ve never missed a match.”

Cricket Australia declined to comment on the matter with a spokesman telling AAP it was inappropriate to do so.

In his lengthy career Etheridge said he has never encountered such a problem and on previous tours the Australian government approved bridging visas for official media.

“I remember we faced some problems one year getting access to Zimbabwe but even that was sorted out and that was under the (Robert) Mugabe regime,” he said.

The men don’t want to overstay their visas or go through the uncertain process of leaving Australia so they can re-enter and try to secure another 90-day visa.

“It would have been good to stay on. Who knows, we might have even seen England win a match,” Etheridge said.

“We will just have to cover (the final matches) from the TV at home which is far from ideal.”

Wilson shared his colleague’s disappointment at having to leave the tour before its completion and said his employer was frustrated by the Australian government’s refusal to make alternate arrangements.

“Some discretion and common sense should be available in instances such as this,” he told AAP.

“The Ashes tour is a huge event for the country. It promotes Australia to the world and we have been a small part of that promotion for 88 days. Sadly not for the full 102.”

Wilson has been told the matter will be rectified in time for the 2015 Cricket World Cup, “but of course that doesn’t help us”.

Comments are closed.