Once seen as the best batsman in Bangladesh cricket, Mohammad Ashraful is aiming for a national comeback after serving the five-year ban due to his involvement in match-fixing in the 2013 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League.
In an exclusive chat with SportStar, the right-handed batsman spoke about his wish to make a comeback to the Bangladesh team.
When asked about how did he see this period while he was banned he said " I have been waiting for this day for the last five and a half years. I am happy that I could play domestic cricket for the past two years and now I am looking forward to breaking into the national team and also be available for the Bangladesh Premier League. The Bangladesh team has done well in limited-over tournaments against the West Indies, so if I can prove my mettle at the domestic league — which starts in October— I will be able to make a comeback".
When asked about if he regrets anything meanwhile, Ashraful said " When I was suspended, the fact that hurt me the most was I would not be able to play for my country. That feeling has haunted me since and now, if I can deliver the goods at the domestic level, I can return to international circuit.
"I have been training hard for this. Before coming to London for advanced training, I was sweating it out in Dhaka. I will get one more month before the first-class season begins and the target is to do well".
Ashraful next spoke in detail regarding his international comeback where he said that he spoke to the BCB Presidents about the prospects of his return with which he seemed happy.
"I have spoken to the BCB president, Najmul Hasan Papon, before coming to England. The Board officials have been with me all throughout and even now, they have encouraged me to do well and have given me the confidence that if I can perform well, the doors for Bangladesh team won’t be shut. Hopefully, I will get another chance.
I love the game and even in the dark phase, I had the confidence of bouncing back. I always wanted to play again, and in the last five years, I have followed each and every series. With T20 cricket becoming more popular, Bangladesh has been able to raise the bar. The style of play has changed.
Since I have been following the new style closely, I will try to get accustomed to it. When I started for Bangladesh, I always wanted to play faster — something that’s being approached by the present lot. So, if I am considered for selection, I don’t think it will be too much of a problem to adjust to the situation".
Ashraful said about Bangladesh's recent rise in the game and the senior players taking responsibility and delivering. "Definitely. For the last three-four years, we have played brilliant cricket, but then, who are the people who have delivered consistently? Tamim (Iqbal), Shafiq, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur (Rahim), Mashrafe (Mortaza) — these five cricketers have been the senior cricketers and the rest have still not cemented their slots in the team. I feel if I can have one good domestic season, then I will be able to bank on my experience to get another chance."
The right-hander concluded his interaction speaking about the lesson that he learnt from this entire episode. "I had brought a bad name for my country and the team. So many people respected me, liked me and it was all gone because of one mistake. That incident affected our cricket. I hope that the young cricketers will take lessons from my experience and stay away from any kind of fixing controversies. I was lucky enough to have got another chance to play. For others, it may not come."