Mohammad Ashraful, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir. What is that one thing- apart from their first name Mohammad- that united these three cricketers? Outrageous Talent? Check. Hailed as a folk hero and demi-gods in their country? Check. Lack of temperament? Check. Tragic heroes? Check. Check. Check.
Mohammad Ashraful came in like a breath of fresh air in Bangladesh cricket. And, he came at a time when Bangladesh desperately needed an outrageous talent like Ashraful; someone who the youngsters of the cricket-mad nation can look up to. But Ashraful remained an enigma. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, the talented cricketer could not line up to the expectations and his career eventually ended in 2013 when he admitted to fixing matches in domestic competitions.
From experiencing soaring highs to excruciating lows like the one he suffered when the match-fixing saga broke out, Ashraful had completed the full circle and by the end of it, he admits he was feeling suicidal. The former Bangladeshi cricketer, in a recent chat with Cricbuzz, opened up about that phase and how his family and close friends helped him get through it.
“I wanted to commit suicide when the news was broken by Kaler Kantho [leading Bengali daily] and it occurred few more times I shared these thoughts with my brother-in-law [Mojibul Alam] and he did the right thing by ridiculing me. He told me that even a great player like Azharuddin has gone through such hardships. The public and the fans will be upset, but I would have to soldier through it.” Mohammad Ashraful told CricBuzz.
”Then the CEO of BCB, Sujon Bhai came to my house to console me. He said that time will change me. My close friend Ashiq, Arif, Tauhid, Jitu, Joy mama used to stay with me till 10-11 pm. I couldn’t sleep at that time and that was the toughest time. When I would wake up, I would find my friend beside me,” said a teary-eyed Ashraful.
“I always used to think how can I survive in such a situation”- Mohammad Ashraful
Mohammad Ashraful revealed that when the scandal broke out, one of his biggest fears was how and his family would he deal with the social stigma. Furthermore, he was embarrassed for letting his country down and decided to come clear on his conscience by revealing everything to the ACSU.
“I always used to think how can I survive in such a situation, how do I show my face in public, what should I tell my family, what will happen to them, how will I cover up the social stigma which will be inflicted upon me and my family. When I first met ACSU on that day, I decided that I wouldn’t lie. I had made up my mind to tell them everything knowing the consequences.” said Ashraful.
He added: “We see many news where players after retire were found to be involved in these kinds of cases. If I haven’t agreed then nothing would have happened,” he said, insisting that it was his voluntary choice to come clean, and that he could have gotten away with it if he had played it smarter. However, the passive mental harassment that came from society was more than enough for Ashraful to handle.
“I knew people were leering at me in a different way, and a lot of my close friends had started to distance themselves from me. That much was evident.” Ashraful revealed.
Mohammad Ashraful was initially banned for eight years which was subsequently reduced to a five-year-teams. And, although, he did complete his ban and made a return to competitive cricket by smashing five hundred in the Dhaka Premier League in 2018 but the right-hander admits that even though many had forgiven him but not to the extent of selecting him back into the national team.