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Bangladesh news

June 7, 2013

Sympathy yes, but no excuse

Tasmia Tahia, UK

Mohammad Ashraful at a media interaction in Dhaka, June 4, 2013
With his raw talent and consistent inconsistency, he was the embodiment of Bangladesh cricket's story. That, however, means nothing now © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Ashraful, the first love of Bangladesh Cricket, the first world-class player Bangladesh had produced, the youngest Test centurion, the poster boy of Bangladesh Cricket - if you have been a Bangladesh fan, you have already read or heard these words a thousand times in the last week, be it on the news or in some Facebook page.

Now, having used up all the clichés, the rest of this piece is only my views, so feel free to disagree and question my limited wisdom on this topic.

Personally, I don't remember when I started watching or following cricket. I know it became a conscious obsession when I was about 14, when I started watching cricket matches between teams I had no connections to, and reading cricket literature and laughing at the silliest puns and jokes. But, I have watched Bangladesh play ever since I can remember, reportedly having woken up to celebrate that 1999 World Cup victory against Pakistan. I perhaps remember it so vividly thanks to the noise my family made, as I am not sure I even understood what winning meant, aged four.

One thing I remember very well is that, as a child, Bangladesh cricket meant Mohammad Ashraful. I didn't care who was batting, but all I saw was Ashraful was playing. Ashraful was synonymous with Bangladesh, with cricket itself.

The events of the last few days have broken my heart. When the first accusations came, I commented with due diligence in his favour, and even the Prothom Alo report didn't convince me. Then came the confession.

The confession hurts the most, as we rarely hear confessions. They are rare in our country, and in our neighbouring nations too. We are accustomed to seeing politicians and criminals travelling to prison holding up their fingers to signal victory - I am not referring to any cricketers here, only politicians. To hear someone confess is rarer than sighting a royal Bengal tiger walking into the local KFC.

I was actually very surprised by the concept of pleading guilty when I first came to the UK, as I never heard of someone actually admitting their fault in Bangladesh. More than 1500 people died in a recent tragedy in Bangladesh due to the flawed building construction. No one has confessed, apologised, or cried.

But Ashraful did. He cried, asked for forgiveness and confessed. Ashraful's admittance and tears perhaps prove that he does have some conscience left. He had the humility and humanity to accept his mistake, nay crime, which has led to a lot of public support for him. It is his confessions and 'wish to protect the game from further harm' that have made him the 'good guy who made a mistake' in people's eyes.

I am one of those who sympathise with him. However, I disagree with the people who say he shouldn't be punished, and that he should get a second chance. I refuse to say that he shouldn't be banned; he needs to be banned for the sake of cricket.

Ashraful was the first world-renowned player from Bangladesh. Shakib, Mushfiqur, Tamim and Nasir might be big names today, but Ashraful showed the way. I still believe this, as does every other Bangladesh cricket fan from my generation. With his raw talent and consistent inconsistency, he was the embodiment of Bangladesh cricket's story.

Imagine the message that goes out to every young cricketer out there, Bangladeshi or not, if he was forgiven or given a lesser punishment. If you are talented, if you are the one, then 'minor' mistakes will be swept under the carpet. Bangladesh is already well known for this ability to forgive. Imagine this message going to young players, who come from economically worse off families, to those who will sacrifice education for the game, to those who get injured too often, and therefore know that the income from playing will dry up one day, and their whole lives are ahead of them, with no certainty of financial support. South Asian cricketers are already the most vulnerable to the dark grasp of fixing, as recent events have shown, due to the lack of education, guidance, and with corruption being institutionalized. Let Ashraful off easy, and the message will be: "Be good at your game, and the broken rules and laws wouldn't matter."

Letting Ashraful off easy would make him bigger than the jersey he betrayed, bigger than the efforts of the whole team, bigger than even cricket probably. And no player can be bigger than cricket.

Talent without judgment is useless, and talent without morals dangerous. Whether Ashraful was stupid or greedy, I don't know. But, after years of getting out unnecessarily, to the utter frustration of fans everywhere, he has finally 'played the shot' which has gotten him 'out' for good, and there should be no DRS here. Ashraful the man can retain his place in the society, but Ashraful the cricketer must go. He has no place in the team or in cricket.

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Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Shuzi on (June 14, 2013, 15:21 GMT)

Great article! Looking forward to reading more from you.

Posted by RAFSAN on (June 13, 2013, 20:12 GMT)

Dont exactly know what to say. Bangladesh and Ash used to be a single soul dwelling in two different bodies.I cant help wondering why a genius that served a country of 160 millions cricket-crazy fans and contributed to cricket for over a decade,should waste himself such a pathetic way.Bangladesh owe much of their success to Ash.Thats why he will be remembered forever.But the reasons you are going to be remembered for are likely to be surpassed by the reasons you are going to be hated for.

Posted by ESPN on (June 9, 2013, 2:39 GMT)

Superb article and I share the same views in this matter

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 8, 2013, 19:06 GMT)

I love Ashraful. I always liked to see him in the 11. When he played bad cricket I was afraid if he is being out of the team. When he was out of the team I wished him to be selected. Now, as he has done wrong, he must be punished and law knows how hard it could be, as he confessed.

But, here Ash is only the kite. So, who hold the bobbin and who handled him also must come under law and punishment. Otherwise we'll see tears in eyes of more Ashes and 'll lose them.

Nice article! Good job!

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 8, 2013, 2:55 GMT)

Dear syeda t tahia Thanks for your nice article on cricinfo about ashraful..I like it. . This is the most heart touching article ... im agree with you ashraful should be published n banned although im a mad fan of ashraful. I never think a perfect bd team without ashraful. .I like to watch only one game in my life n this is cricket if bd playing. Everything was alright on your article but u could ask for minimum punishment. If ashraful will banned for life time then I would never watch Bangladesh cricket again. This is not only me.i know lots of ash fan they will do same.....remember icc or bcb can banned a ashraful but they can't produce 1 more ashraful in bd. Ashraful not only a name its an history. My request to you please write another article for ashrafuls minimum punishment. Bye thanks

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 7, 2013, 22:32 GMT)

Thank you everyone for all you lovely comments. I am touched by all the support and encouragement from fellow cricket fans from not only Bangladesh, but also India. Pray for me. Hopefully, one day I shall be able to take my passion and love for cricket to the next level by getting more involved with the game as a commentator or writer. :)

Posted by Bragaadeesh on (June 7, 2013, 20:25 GMT)

Beautiful article. You will go places with your writing. Good work Syeda and excellent points you've mentioned. Really glad to see your bold views and your passion for cricket. Respect from india.

Posted by Zakirul on (June 7, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

Great article. A writer is born.

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 7, 2013, 16:05 GMT)

Excellent Writing. Excellent. Exactly what I am thinking, and agree with. He Should be punished heavily just to send the message crime doesn't pay. But i will still go to his restaurant to eat.

Posted by Dummy4 on (June 7, 2013, 15:53 GMT)

You missed one point. Ashraful was just the leaf node of the whole system. Ashraful needs to be punished along with the deep root of the system. ICC or BCB can only punish him or them by banning from all forms of cricket. IMO, the law enforcement agency should come forward here just like the Indians' doing.

Other than this I totally second you. Nice article, keep up your good work!

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