Sports Desk: Mohammad Ashraful still harbours hopes of playing for Bangladesh again after his five-year ban for involvement in match-fixing and spot-fixing in the 2013 Bangladesh Premier League officially ends on August 13.
Henceforth, he will become eligible for international cricket and the BPL, having already been allowed to play in Bangladesh's domestic competitions on the same day in 2016.
Ashraful is delighted to be making the return, saying he had been waiting for this day for the last five years.
"I have been waiting for August 13, 2018 for a long time now," Ashraful told media. "It has been more than five years since the day I admitted my involvement. Although I have played domestic cricket in the last two seasons, there is now nothing preventing me from being eligible for national selection. Playing for Bangladesh again will be my greatest achievement."
The highlight in these two seasons has been his five List-A centuries in the 2017-18 Dhaka Premier League. He is only the second batsman to do so in a single List-A tournament; the other being Alviro Peterson in the 2015-16 Momentum One-Day Cup on South Africa's domestic circuit.
He has averaged 47.63 in 23 List-A games since the ban was lifted, but his first-class form hasn't been as good - a 21.85 batting average in 13 matches, with just one century. "The first season after my return wasn't great but I did well in the 2017-18 season. I hope to do even better in the coming seasons," he said.
"Now I can be considered for selection through my performance. I have already gone through a month-long training programme and after August 15, I will go into pre-season training leading into the upcoming season's National Cricket League."
In June 2014, the BPL's anti-corruption tribunal had banned Ashraful for eight years and fined him BDT 10 lakh (USD 12,000 approx). In September that year, the BCB's disciplinary panel reduced the ban to five years, with the last two of those years suspended.
The BCB and ICC unsuccessfully appealed against the ban reduction. The reduction was subject to his participation in a BCB or ICC anti-corruption education and training programme. Accordingly, Ashraful took part in an anti-corruption programme and during the 2015 BPL, appeared in awareness videos shown to players and officials.
risingbd/Dhaka/Aug 10, 2018/Nasim