In an abrupt reversal of centuries-old tradition of Britain deporting people to Australia, three cricket writers on the ill-starred England Ashes tour have been told that they must leave the country.
John Etheridge, from The Sun, Dean Wilson, of the Mirror, and the Daily Mail’s Paul Newman have all been told that they must go before the end of the tour – which is now in its one-day international death throes with a dead rubber thanks to the England team’s remarkable ability to snatch defeats from the jaws of victory.
Yet far from receiving the news from the Australian immigration service as a blessed relief, all three are professionally disappointed that they seem likely to be barred from seeing out the tour to its bitter end.
Etheridge, Wilson and Newman are the only three members of the England press pack who had opted to cover the entire tour, including the warm-up matches. “We had hoped to stay long enough to see England win a match,” Etheridge said.
Etheridge also said that although Cricket Australia had tried to negotiate on his behalf, “all avenues have been exhausted”.
All three journalists were travelling on visas which had been recommended by Australian officials. The visitor’s visa expires after 90 days, though – not enough time to cover a modern international cricket tour in its entirety.
Newman tweeted: “Cricket Australia and the ECB have done all they can to help us but I guess, in Australia particularly, rules are rules…”
Seven members of the England squad have been in Australia for longer than 90 days, but they are travelling on a different visa.
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