Bangladesh cricket September 23, 2008

Ashraful denies role in ICL exodus

Cricinfo staff

Mohammad Ashraful said he was approached by the ICL but refused © AFP

Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, has denied being the "mastermind" behind 13 players joining the ICL. Ashraful claimed he received an offer of $2.1 million - a claim ICL officials have denied - but refused it once the Bangladesh board told him that accepting the offer would mean he could not play for his country.

Habibul Bashar, the former Bangladesh captain, and recent internationals Aftab Ahmed, Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, Dhiman Ghosh and Mosharraf Hossain were among those who joined the ICL's Dhaka Warriors. Some of them have reportedly said they were introduced to the recruiting agent by Ashraful.

"That is totally wrong. I have never met that agent and only speak to him over phone," Ashraful told "He is well known to many Bangladesh players and he has arranged sponsors for a number of local players and has helped them in getting club-cricket contracts in England. I believe he contacted them directly.

"I have heard also that I am being projected as the mastermind. People who are saying that should remember that the biggest offer came to me and 150 million Taka ($2.1 million), over a three-year period, is not a matter of joke."

Ashraful said he immediately informed the Bangladesh board about the offer made to him and only learnt of the mass exodus while he was on holiday in England. He also agreed with Mashrafe Mortaza that the ICL issue did not affect their performance in Australia.

"The coach [Jamie Siddons] told me that there were mutterings that some players could be signing for the ICL," Ashraful said. "When we asked the players they all denied interest straightaway. I didn't see the matter having an impact on the tour. Among the players who later joined the ICL, Dhiman's wicketkeeping was brilliant throughout the ODI series, Farhad Reza bowled beautifully when he got the chance, and Alok (Kapali) looked okay in the lead-up matches."

The Bangladesh board banned the ICL players from international and domestic cricket for a period of ten years but Ashraful believed the board "would do everything to facilitate them" if they wanted to return.