Testing time for cricket visitors

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The Independent Online
CRICKET FANS travelling from Asia for the World Cup in England are being grilled about their knowledge of the game by British High Commission staff and immigration officers.

Visitors from countries including Sri Lanka have been asked questions about their country's players and the venues of their games before being granted visas. At least 600 fans are said to have been questioned by high commission officials in Colombo before heading for Britain. About 5,000 Indians are believed to have travelled to the World Cup.

A Sri Lankan man was said to have been questioned for 40 minutes in Colombo and asked whether he knew who had captained Sri Lanka to triumph in the last World Cup.

The Foreign Office last night confirmed that questions were being asked to establish whether applicants were bona fide cricket fans but said the routine was part of the normal screening process. He denied that Asian visitors were being singled out for questioning.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "In cases where there is any doubt the visa office may ask questions to confirm the motives of the visa applicant. It is standard practice.

"In countries where you don't need a visa to visit Britain those questions may have been asked by the immigration officer at Heathrow.