Ashraful denies ICL ties
Thursday, 25 September 2008

But admits having been approached

Staff Correspondent

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful has brushed aside allegations that he pulled the strings behind the scenes to get eight top cricketers to join the breakaway Indian Cricket League.

He, however, admits being the first man to have been approached and that he declined the offer.
 
"I was the first man who the ICL through an agent offered $ 21 lakh for three years. I immediately informed the chief selector (Rafiqul Alam) and Lipu Bhai (Gazi Ashraf Hossain, the cricket operations chairman) of the matter. I even also informed my coach Wahidul Gani.
 
"I sought suggestion from Lipu Bhai. He told me that I would not be able to play for the country any more if I had played there. Immediately I told the agent 'No'. I knew nothing more about it," Ashraful told reporters.
 
Former captain Habibul Bashar, openers Shahriar Nafees and Nazim Uddin, middle-order batsman Aftab Ahmed, all-rounders Alok Kapli and Farhad Reza, wicketkeeper Dhiman Ghosh and spinner Mosharraf Hossain Rubel retired from international cricket to sign up for the ICL on Sept. 14.
 
Ashraful has been kept off the media after his arrival on Monday from England, but the Bangladesh captain was presented before a horde of reporters before media on the third day of the training at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium ahead of next month's home series against New Zealand.
 
The youngest Test centurion also rejected the allegation that he had worked as a mediator between the agent and the cricketers.
 
"Most of our cricketers have good relations with that agent, who had earlier managed some individual sponsors for the cricketers. He even brought some local players to play in England. So, it was not right that the cricketers had contacted the agent through me."
 
Ashraful claimed that he had learnt from newspapers two days after arriving in England that the cricketers were going to play the ICL.
 
The 24-year old said, "The coach (Jamie Siddons) informed me halfway during the Australia tour that the cricketers might go to play for the ICL. Afterwards, I asked the players about it, but no-one admitted."
 
Asked whether there had been any substance in some of the deserting cricketers' claim that they had joined the ICL after being upset with the national team, Ashraful said, "They should have expressed their disappointment, if any, because no-one can say that 'I must play tomorrow'."
 
"Everyone has to ensure his place in the national team through performance. Even questions about my captaincy have recently been raised because of my poor performance with the bat. Actually, the players are the main selectors, not the coach or the captain or the selection panel."
 
Asked to comment on the claims by the 'rebel' players that they had been encouraged by his 'yes' to join the ICL, Ashraful said, "I read it in newspapers, which also ran stories that I had played a role in sending Shahriar Nafees and Aftab Ahmed who had been considered future captains, but I will say all of those were baseless."
 
"If they had minimum intelligence they would not say that I was sending them away to secure my captaincy."
 
Ashraful would not comment on whether the players should play in the ICL but said that he would think of playing the ICL once the tournament was recognised by the International Cricket Council and the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
 
He, however, said, "The door of the national team was still open to those cricketers and if they want to come back, I will certainly recommend for them. I believe the board will also fight for them.

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