The regret of missing out on cricket was what finally broke Mohammad Ashraful. In his first appearance in front of the media, after he met with the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) last month, the cricketer broke down when asked if he regretted his actions at this phase of his career.
"Obviously, I am feeling very bad... Please pray for me," was all he could tell mediapersons, before being taken inside by his friends, who were standing near his house in Dhaka. Ashraful was sobbing, and was quickly taken upstairs to his apartment.
The 2012-13 season saw Ashraful make his highest Test score, in a bid to come back into the Bangladesh team. His 190 against Sri Lanka was hailed by even his critics who quietly praised his patience. Though the subsequent Zimbabwe tour wasn't as good, Ashraful still looked to be in good form. But his admission of guilt to the ACSU has now ensured that he stands in breach of several codes and awaits punishment from the BCB.
A few minutes before the press interaction began, he was trying to force a smile. He even let out a giggle when asked if he would talk off-camera after he repeatedly said he wasn't prepared to talk until the ACSU's report is submitted to the BCB.
"Not talking in front of the camera got me into trouble in the first place," he blurted out, and laughed. This was an attempt at seeking normalcy but, given what he has admitted to, normalcy will elude him even though the ACSU verdict is still a few weeks away.
"I made a mistake. This was the first time in my career that the ICC anti-corruption unit called on me. I did some bad things and I admitted to doing them. I am trying to help them for the sake of cricket," he said. "After coming back from Zimbabwe, when they asked me, I told them what I had done. I didn't want to keep feeling guilty, so I told them whatever I did wrong. I made a couple of mistakes, but otherwise I was honest to the cause of playing for Bangladesh."
One of Bangladesh's most admired cricketers, Ashraful also apologised to his fans. "I apologise to the entire nation, to all my fans and friends. I am guilty about everything. I have disappointed my fans," he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here