Bangladesh in England, 2005 July 1, 2005

Ashraful aims to build on success


Mohammad Ashraful lit up the NatWest Series with some dazzling strokeplay © Getty Images
As Bangladesh prepared to leave England, Mohammad Ashraful vowed to use the trip as a springboard for further, more consistent, success. Although Bangladesh twice went down by an innings in their two Tests against England, they rallied in the one-day internationals with Ashraful's run-a-ball hundred setting up their shock five-wicket win against Australia in Cardiff.

It is now four years since Ashraful, on the verge of his 17th birthday, became the youngest player to score a Test hundred when he reached three figures against Sri Lanka. Although he failed to live up to that promise during the Tests against England, Ashraful was pleased by the way he responded to early failures later in the tour by scoring 259 runs in the Natwest Seires at over 43.

"I was not happy with the Test series against England but I've been happy to come back in the one-dayers and score runs again. I had the thinking before that I could score 100 in every innings, so my thinking was not mature - but I am more mature now. I know I can't get a 100 every game but I can continue my form.

"I am more mature now in my thinking and batting. I want to continue being consistent in the next series. I think I can do that against Sri Lanka in our next series. If I do that, then I hopefully will have got rid of the inconsistency tag. I don't just want to have scored runs in this series in England. I want to be a success all the time."

Bangladesh's victory against Australia in Cardiff was their lone international success of a tour that featured some heavy defeats. But an upbeat Ashraful insisted: "I feel Bangladesh can become an even better side. In two or three years we can challenge anyone. At the moment we get a good start to the innings and don't always catch up in the middle or late order.

"I think this can happen. If we can score runs all the time, then we can challenge anyone. To beat Australia gave us a big lift. Before that we were not in good form but after that match everyone was changed mentally. It gave us self-belief."

Meanwhile Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar said several of his players could do well in English county cricket. "I don't know if they are going to get any offers but I think Ashraful, Shahriar Nafees and Aftab Ahmed are capable of playing at that level. I'd be very happy if they get offers and the chance to play in the county games. I hope that the counties have been looking at some of our players."

Nafees, who won the man of the match award for his 75 against Australia at Canterbury on Thursday, and Ahmed will be returning to England with the Bangladesh A team later this month along with Nafees Iqbal and Nazmul Hossain.

Nafees, 19, said: "We have to take good things out of every game on this tour and work out the areas which went wrong and improve on them. It has been a big learning curve for all of us."