Visa delay could stump Smith's campaign

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2012
Dwayne Smith
FAIRFAX NZ
DWAYNE SMITH: If the West Indies star has withdrawn from the Canterbury Wizards side for domestic T20 competition.

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Red tape threatens to derail a major signing for the Canterbury Wizards' Twenty20 campaign.

West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Smith agreed to play for the Wizards in four domestic Twenty20 matches but has been ruled out of tonight's game against Auckland.

He's yet to receive a visa to play and if it is not sorted by tomorrow, the deal could be off all together, according to Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon.

The plan was originally for Smith to play tonight, next Thursday in Timaru against Otago and in the Wizards' double-header against Central Districts on January 1 and 3 in Nelson.

The first of the Nelson games and the Timaru match are home games for Canterbury Cricket, which wants Smith in red and black to boost the gate takings and, obviously, help win the matches.

Smith's inclusion would be a major coup for the Wizards.

He's played 117 Twenty20 matches, including in the Indian Premier League and the T20 Champions League.

He is a powerful batsman capable of clearing the rope with ease and is a handy medium pacer with impressive numbers.

The trouble surrounding a visa has so far meant Smith remains in his home island nation of Barbados.

The Press understands because Smith was recently in Bangladesh with the West Indies side, he could not begin the visa process until he returned home.

Canterbury Cricket originally expected it to be completed quickly but as soon as officials found out Smith would not arrive in time for tonight's match, they brought in Australian Mitchell Claydon as the side's second import.

"If he doesn't receive the visa by Friday their time [tomorrow NZ time] then we'll have to reassess because he'd need to be on a plane on Monday to get here in time for the Timaru game," Germon said.

Should he miss the Timaru match, the expense of flying Smith to New Zealand from the Caribbean for just two matches was likely to be seen as too much and the plan canned, Germon said.

The Press understands an Australian player was being looked at as a back-up, though Germon would not identify who that player was.

The Wizards welcome in former international Brendon Diamanti to the side for the rest of the T20 competition, starting tonight, and expect opening bowler Matt Henry to take the field for the first time this season in Timaru.

Black Caps Rob Nicol and Ronnie Hira should be back from South Africa in time for the New Year's double-header in Nelson.

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- The Press

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