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Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 15:22 UK

Surrey suffer Shoaib visa setback

Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib has been plagued by both injury and controversy in recent years

Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar's bid to join Surrey has suffered a setback after the British authorities ruled he can not play without a working visa.

Shoaib had a valid visa to visit England but not a working visa, which is required to play county cricket.

The 33-year-old was hoping to join Surrey for the last three matches of the season but has now flown home.

Shoaib said: "I am hopeful of getting a work visa soon and hope to fly back to England on Saturday."

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon said: "We did everything we could to get him here, but it hasn't worked out. We thought he'd make an impact as he wanted to get his career up and running again."

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has backed the bowler's surprise return to English county cricket, with chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi saying Shoaib needed to regain match fitness.

The PCB has previously been wary of its fast bowlers competing in county cricket with Umar Gul and Rao Iftikhar previously having been refused permission to play in England.

"Shoaib's case is a bit different," said Naghmi. "He has been out of competitive cricket for quite some time and needs to regain his match fitness.

"We believe a short county stint might help him in doing that."

Shoaib has previously played for Somerset, Worcestershire and Durham.

In a chequered international career he has played 46 Tests and 138 one-day matches for Pakistan, but has not featured since late 2007.

Australian seamer Matt Nicholson is Surrey's current registered overseas player and would have to make way if Akhtar were to arrive at The Oval.

see also
Shoaib ban reduced to 18 months
14 Jun 08 |  Pakistan
Shoaib set to fight ban in court
02 Apr 08 |  Pakistan
Shoaib given five-year suspension
01 Apr 08 |  Pakistan
No Pakistan contract for Shoaib
25 Jan 08 |  Pakistan
Shoaib banned after hitting Asif
11 Oct 07 |  Pakistan

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