I rejected $2.5 mn Indian Cricket League offer: Bangladesh skipper

September 25th, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 25 (IANS) Mohammed Ashraful, skipper of Bangladesh’s new-look cricket team, has said that he rejected a $2.5 million offer from the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and denied having encouraged any of the fellow-Bangladeshi cricketers to opt for the rebel league.Dhiman Ghosh, a Bangladeshi player now part of ICL’s “Dhaka Warriors” team, had charged Ashraful with encouraging fellow-Bangladeshi cricketers to opt for ICL.

Ashraful spoke up on the issue of his contact with an unnamed ICL agent after an embargo on his speaking to the media ended Wednesday, media reports said.

“That is totally wrong. I have never met that agent and only talked to him over the phone. He is well known to many Bangladeshi players as he has arranged sponsors for a number of local players and helped them in getting club contracts in the UK. I believe he contacted them directly.

“Some people are calling me the mastermind. They should remember that the biggest offer came to me. Fifteen crore taka ($2.5 million) over a three-year period is not a matter of joke. But my involvement with the ICL ended the moment I refused that offer,” reported The Daily Star quoting Ashraful.

When he was pressed further in this regard, he defended himself and challenged Ghosh, who had alleged the skipper had encouraged him (Dhiman) to sign in ICL as he’s not the first-choice wicketkeeper.

“I would have preferred if he (Dhiman) had said that in front of me,” said Ashraful.

He confirmed speculations that talk of a player revolt was being planned during the recent Australia tour.

“Our coach (Jamie Siddons) told me that some of the players could be signing for ICL. When I asked the players, they all denied it straightaway.

“If I had any idea that so many players were actually joining then I definitely would have told the cricket board,” said Ashraful, 24.

“The first ICL offer came to me through an agent and it was a three-year deal. I informed our chief selector (Rafiqul Alam), Lipu bhai (Gazi Ashraf Hossain) and my coach (Wahidul Gani) about it,” he said.

“When I asked Lipu bhai what will happen if I take up the contract, he told me that I wouldn’t be able to play for Bangladesh.

“He also told me that if I play well, we might have a chance to play in the IPL (Indian Premier League) next year. After hearing all this from him, I immediately rejected the offer and don’t know what happened next,” said Ashraful.

“I read somewhere that (Shahriar) Nafees and Aftab (Ahmed) had remarked that I wanted them out of the way as they could have been future captains; that I stopped their progress. If they knew they were captaincy material then why on earth would they want to leave?” asked the star batsman.

Ashraful also reiterated that he would not be going to the rebel Indian league even if he were to be left out of the national team.

“Even if I lose the captaincy or get dropped, I would not consider ICL because I want to play Tests and ODIs (One Day Internationals). Nothing is more important to me than representing the country.

“If I’m dropped for bad form, I know that I can bounce back even if it takes two years because I have age on my side,” said Ashraful.

He added that he only heard of the whole ICL fiasco when he was in Britain, where he went on a vacation (after returning from Australia) and did a couple of charity fund-raisers for victims of last year’s cyclone Sidr.

He felt that the ICL-bound players were the bigger losers, as they had to give up their chance to play for Bangladesh.

“The players joining the ICL have lost more because they can’t play international or first-class cricket and there will be others to fill in the gap.

“We lost 14 out of roughly 160 first-class players. It is true that we will miss their experience to a certain extent because they had played top level cricket for a number of years but the newer guys will gain experience the same way,” Ashraful said.

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