Pavel Florin will appear on an Australian cricket pitch after all this weekend, after the decision to refuse the Romanian player’s visa application was overturned.
Florin, the Transylvanian cricketer whose love of the game captured the public’s imagination earlier this year, will feature in a fifth XI game for Surrey Hills Cricket Club in Melbourne on Sunday.
On Thursday it was revealed the Department of Home Affairs had rejected Florin’s application for a tourist visa, but the 40-year-old confirmed that decision has since been overturned.
Club president Mal Campbell had vowed to redouble efforts to bring Florin to Australia and a date early next year, to coincide with the Women’s World Twenty20 tournament, had been pencilled in.
But Thursday night’s news left the club scrambling to arrange flights to get Florin to Melbourne in time to pad up for Sunday’s game.
“We’re absolutely delighted the Department of Home Affairs has been so flexible and responsive in reversing its decision,” Campbell said. “In doing that, they have helped the game, which is the purpose of this visit.”
Having been impressed by Florin’s values and unwavering love of the game, Surrey Hills CC have for the past four months been plotting to bring him to Melbourne’s east to promote him as a role model for younger players of the game.
“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,” Campbell said.
Following Sunday’s exhibition match – for a development team that bridges the gap between junior and senior cricket and where winning is not the most important factor – Florin will play further games for the club the following weekend.
He is expected to captain the side on Sunday before speaking afterwards at a club function.
There are also hopes he will take in next week’s first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba in Brisbane before returning to Melbourne.
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 his indefatigable love of the game.
Shane Warne and Jofra Archer were among those who gave their backing to the allrounder.
Florin is expected to arrive in Australia on Saturday afternoon.