Ashraful: 'Surprised Shakib did not report corrupt approaches'

"It is unbelievable that someone of Shakib’s stature did not report the matter to the anti-corruption units. That, too, when there were multiple attempts," Ashraful said.

Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful believes the ban has come at the wrong time for Shakib al Hasan.

Shakib Al Hasan’s two-year-ban could not have come at a worse time. At this juncture, when Bangladesh cricket is reeling with issues related to player payments and there is a strong sense of displeasure among the cricketers over numerous issues, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has handed Shakib a lengthy ban for failing to report three corrupt approaches.

This effectively ruled the Bangladesh captain out of the India tour — which begins on November 1 — and sent shock waves in the cricketing circuit.

Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said he was surprised to hear about Shakib’s suspension.

“It is unbelievable that someone of Shakib’s stature did not report the matter to the anti-corruption units. That, too, when there were multiple attempts. I am surprised! He definitely should have been careful,” Ashraful told Sportstar from Dhaka on Tuesday.

"He is such a senior player and he knows what such things could lead to, so he should have been more alert. I have learnt it the hard way and I hope other players too remain alert about fixing approaches. It is important for the game.”

Ashraful too had gone through a similar episode in life when he was banned for eight years for his involvement in match-fixing and spot-fixing cases in 2013 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League. He was also imposed a fine of 10 lakh Bangladeshi Taka by the BPL’s anti-corruption tribunal in 2014. However, later that year, the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s disciplinary panel reduced the ban to five years.

“He is such a senior player and he knows what such things could lead to, so he should have been more alert. I have learnt it the hard way and I hope other players too remain alert about fixing approaches. It is important for the game. — Mohammad Ashraful

Even though Ashraful returned to mainstream cricket last year, he is yet to make it to the national team. “It does get difficult for a cricketer to return to cricket after a long time. But with Shakib, it won’t be the case. Technically, he has to serve one year’s ban and he needs to be strong,” Ashraful said.

“Every cricketer goes through injuries and Shakib, too, needs to treat this phase this way. He has immense talent and age by his side, so it won’t be too difficult for him to stage a comeback.”

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As the news broke out, the cricket fans across Bangladesh expressed their disappointment on social media. While many felt that Shakib should have alerted the ICC and the BCB about the approaches, some of the fans felt that the player was being targeted for leading the players’ strike, which rocked Bangladesh cricket last week.

Even Ashraful feels that the ban has come at a wrong time. “It is a big setback for Bangladesh cricket and the timing is also wrong. This is for the first time Bangladesh will be playing a long series against India and the team needed Shakib,” Ashraful said.

The former captain also believes that it is important for the BCB to back Shakib to the hilt. “He is a star player of our country and the Board must support him. Yes, he should have been careful, but now that it has happened, our job is to ensure that we stand by him,” Ashraful said.

Another former Bangladesh captain, Habibul Bashar, too, could not believe that the country’s top cricketer could be dragged into such a case. “It is a sad day for Bangladesh cricket. It is unbelievable,” Bashar said. “I don’t know what happened and under what circumstances, but to me, this is shocking. I still can’t believe it,” the former captain said.

With more than 11,000 runs and over 500 wickets across three formats, Shakib is undoubtedly one of Bangladesh’s biggest stars. The next one year is going to be challenging for Shakib, but his team-mates — past and present — and the former captains assure that they would stand by him in the times of darkness.