‘No space for Ashraful now’

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Asianbangla Desk : Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful’s five-year ban from international cricket for involvement in match-fixing and spot-fixing during the 2013 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) will officially come to an end today. The cricketer will be eligible to take part in the BPL in the upcoming season and is also available for selection to the national team.

However, according to chief selector Minhajul Abedin, it will not be easy for Ashraful to return to the national team anytime soon.

“He [Ashraful] has not been in the international circuit for a long time now. So he now has to play all the formats in domestic cricket and will also have to prove his fitness for international cricket — that is very important. His suspension will be lifted and he will get to play all the formats. Maybe after a year we will get to know his state,” Minhajul told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.

According to Minhajul, age is not a factor for the 34-year-old if he is fit enough for international cricket, but at the same time added that Ashraful has to come through a proper system and will have to prove his worth.

“To be honest he does not have a space[in the national pipeline] at this point. He is not attached with the system — of playing in HP, A team — so he is far from the national team right now. You need to give a player time to go through the journey and achieve the level,” he said.

Ashraful however has already been playing domestic 50-over and four-day leagues since August 13, 2016. He smashed five centuries in the Dhaka Premier League for Kalabagan Krira Chakra last season.

But the right-hander was unable to shine in the first class competitions since returning from his suspension and struck just one century.

In a video message on Saturday, Ashraful informed that he has worked on his fitness during this period and lost nine kilograms over the past two months. The cricketer also said that he is eyeing the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and will do whatever it requires to make a comeback to the Bangladesh team.

“I have been waiting for this day for the past five-and-a-half years, although I have played first-class and List A matches in the last two years. Thanks to the almighty that finally this day came and I will be eligible for the national team and also able to play the BPL.

“Obviously I have dreamed of returning to the national team over the past five years and I also had a good domestic season last year especially in the Dhaka Premier League. As the World Cup is approaching I dream of making a comeback and I will try to perform in all domestic tournaments to make it possible,” said Ashraful.

However, if Minhajul’s statement that the selectors will know his state after a year and the World Cup starting in June holds true, it presumably rules Ashraful out of the World Cup, for which the squad will have to be named at least a month in advance.

The BPL’s anti-corruption tribunal had banned Ashraful for eight years and fined him Tk10 lakh in June 2014. Three months later the BCB’s disciplinary commitee reduced his ban to five years, with the last two of those years suspended subject to his participation in the BCB or ICC’s anti-corruption education and training programme.

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