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May 3, 2006
Mohammad Ashraful, Bangladesh's often-spectacular, often-ordinary batting star, is off to play league cricket in England. Ashraful has signed up for Rainhill Cricket Club in Liverpool in a bid to recapture some much-needed batting form.
"This is for the first time I am going to play league cricket abroad. I don't know how competitive the league is but my main concern is to score runs, nothing else," Ashraful was quoted as saying in the Daily Star. "As per the contract I will play for the club till September but I will be available for national duty during this period," he added.
Ashraful has been in abysmal batting form recently, scoring only 68 runs in the recent two-Test series against Australia. That form resulted in him being axed from the second of three ODIs that followed, though he returned for the final game. Eighteen runs from two knocks against opposition whom he hit for a memorable, matchwinning century last year, however, indicated all is not well.
Not that he knows what has caused his poor recent form or indeed why, after four years or so, a batsman of his talent averages under 25 in Tests and barely 20 in ODIs. "I don't know where the problem lies. On most occasions I had a good start but failed to capitalise. I think playing for Rainhill will be an opportunity for me to gain consistency. I believe that it is always exciting and challenging to score runs in English conditions."
Rainhill, in the Merseyside & Southport Cricket Alliance 1st division, are understandably elated with their coup. Paul Ford, the 1st XI captain, said on the club's website, "It's been a long hard process and I am pleased to have finally signed a professional. Mohammad Ashraful is a fine young talent in world cricket and we are delighted to have signed him. This is an exciting time for all concerned at Rainhill CC and we look forward to his arrival with much anticipation."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.