QUESTIONS OVER ASHRAFUL COMEBACK
Mohammad Ashraful was first banned for eight years before it was reduced to five years. © Getty
Suspended batsman Mohammad Ashraful has been allowed to take part in the country’s franchise-based four-day competition – Bangladesh Cricket League, although he is yet to complete the five-year ban that runs up to August 2018. The decision taken by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has already raised a few eyebrows.
Ashraful was not allowed to take part in the same competition [BCL] last year even after the former national skipper had taken part in the National Cricket League, Bangladesh’s traditional first-class competition with his three-year ban having been lifted in August 2016.
BCB had then stated that Ashraful was allowed to take part in NCL since his three-year suspension from all forms of competitive cricket was lifted in 2016 itself. However, a five-year suspension applied to his participation in franchise-based tournaments. In what was a U-turn on the same, BCB this time, has advanced the country’s youngest Test centurion’s participation in the BCL, although he isn’t eligible as of yet.
Cricbuzz learnt that the dashing right-hander has been allowed to be included in BCL only after special consideration. Ashraful, who is one of the few cricketers from Dhaka, usually plays for the Central Zone in the four-day competition played between four teams divided into four zonal teams.
BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told Cricbuzz on Wednesday (January 10) that he had included Ashraful in BCL only after being cleared by BCB’s Anti-Corruption and Security Unit officials. “We [selectors] were told by our ACSU members that he is eligible to play in the BCL, and only after receiving their positive consent we included him,” Minhajul said.
Ashraful was initially slapped with a eight-year ban by a special anti-corruption tribunal set up by the board in July 2014. A one-member appeal panel had then reduced his ban to five years, with the last two years to be reprieved upon producing a certificate of good conduct from the ICC through participation in the ‘anti-corruption education and training programme.
BCB and the ICC had lodged an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland against his reduced ban in October 2014, but had later withdrawn it.
Though it is still not clear why ICC and BCB withdrew their appeal but according to BCB insiders, the parent body included a separate clause for Ashraful in regards to playing franchise-based cricket.
During the last edition of BCL, BCB chief executive Nizamuddin Chowdhury told the media that they were not sure about ICC’s stand regarding Ashraful playing in certain domestic competitions. Nizamuddin refused to confirm if Ashraful will be considered for the upcoming Bangladesh Cricket League until ICC’s clarification.
On Wednesday, Nizamuddin told reporters in Mirpur that he does not have any problem with Ashraful playing in the BCL but refused to confirm that he is eligible to play in BPL. “He can play in BCL, franchise-based four-day competition but it is not the same as far as BPL is concerned.”
When contacted, match referee Neeyamur Rashid Rahul, who is officiating in the game between Islamic Bank East Zone and Prime Bank South Zone, of which Ashraful is a part of, he failed to reply with conviction. “We did not receive any order from BCB that he cannot play and so we allowed him,” Neeyamur said. “I think you better ask BCB in this regard as I am not aware about anything in this regard.”
Although, Ashraful is back playing in the BCL, none of the board members were able to offer a substantial clarification regarding his comeback, only raising the level of discrepancy in the public eye.