A cricket club in Melbourne has vowed not to give up in its efforts to bring Pavel Florin to Australia after the Transylvanian cricketer, whose love of the game captured the public’s imagination earlier this year, was refused a visa to play in an exhibition game.
Florin, who was hailed as a hero for his upbeat response after footage of his distinctive bowling style was shared globally in July, had been invited to make a guest appearance for Surrey Hills cricket club’s fifth XI this weekend. But the 40-year-old’s application for a tourist visa was rejected by the Department of Home Affairs and the planned trip cancelled.
The president of Surrey Hills CC, Mal Campbell, said efforts would be redoubled to make the visit happen, with a new date pencilled in for a visit early next year to coincide with the women’s World Twenty20 tournament final at the MCG on 8 March.
“We don’t give up at this club,” Campbell said. “We are rescheduled for late February to give us some time to get a proper visa sorted for him. Cricket Victoria have been very supportive; they’re going to help the visa process.”
Florin, a professional bodyguard by day and player-president of Romania’s Cluj Cricket Club in his spare time, rose to prominence when he said he “didn’t care” what people thought of his ability on a cricket pitch due to an indefatigable love of the game.
Shane Warne and Jofra Archer were among those who gave their backing to the allrounder.
asked what attracted the club to Florin, Campbell said: “Just his values, his love of the game and his complete disregard for anyone who made any comment about his ability.
“We just want kids to enjoy playing the game and love cricket, so we thought he was a wonderful ambassador for that approach to the game.”
Florin would have played on Sunday for the club’s fifth XI, a development team that bridges the gap between junior and senior cricket, where winning is not the most important factor.
Campbell said there had been plenty of support for the Romanian’s visit, for which he would not have been paid. His costs – airfare and accommodation – would have been covered.
Melbourne’s Romanian community had been invited to the game, which Campbell said was a good opportunity to promote both the club and Florin’s own growing brand.
“Cricket Victoria is acting with Cricket Australia,” Campbell said. “They’re very big on inclusivity and people from all sorts of background playing the game. They’re keen on idea of Pavel coming out and promoting the sport.”
The Department of Home Affairs said it could not comment on individual visa cases.
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