Ashraful given chance to push Test claims
Mohammad Ashraful is in line for a recall to Bangladesh's squad for the Test series against England later this month, after being named as captain of the Bangladesh A side that will take on England in their three-day warm-up match in Chittagong from Sunday.
The call-up comes after Ashraful was granted permission to miss the current ODI series against England, following a torrid tour of New Zealand in which he managed 62 runs in six innings, across all three forms of the game.
"Ashraful himself wanted a break and we also felt that the pressure on him had increased to the extent that his confidence was suffering," said the Bangladesh chairman of selectors, Raqiful Alam. "We believe that a gap from international cricket would be beneficial for him and he will come back strongly soon and do justice to his calibre."
Since scoring a century on debut as a 17-year-old, against Sri Lanka at Colombo in September 2001, Ashraful has gained a reputation as one of the most naturally gifted batsmen in the world game, and is an established star in Bangladesh thanks to his rare moments of brilliance, such as his matchwinning century against Australia in June 2005.
But his respective Test and ODI averages of 22.78 and 23.72 do his talent no justice whatsoever, and he has often been prone to long periods of fallow form. When England were last in Bangladesh back in 2003, he was omitted from the two-Test series as the then-coach Dav Whatmore decided that the constant scrutiny from his countrymen was proving detrimental to his development, and in 2009, he was relieved of the national captaincy for similar reasons.
He will form part of a strong batting line-up including several Test hopefuls such as Junaid Siddique, who played in the opening ODI at Dhaka before making way for an extra spinner, and Roqibul Hasan. There is no place, however, for Mashrafe Mortaza, who told Cricinfo earlier this month that he was considering retiring from Tests to prolong his one-day career, but nevertheless left the ODI squad in acrimonious circumstances on Tuesday morning.
Squad Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Junaid Siddique, Mehrab Hossain Jr, Shamsur Rahman, Roqibul Hasan, Shuvogoto Chowdhury, Shahagir Hossain (wk), Mahbubul Alam, 9 Robiul Islam, Syed Rasel, Dollar Mahmud, Nur Hossain Munna