Mohammad Ashraful hopes to return to competitive cricket through the Bangladesh Cricket League, the country's premier four-day cricket competition, which is scheduled to begin next month.
Ashraful, whose suspension ended yesterday, awaits a certificate of good conduct from the ICC. Once the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) receives that certificate, he will be able to take part in tournaments organised within the jurisdiction of the BCB except for the Bangladesh Premier League, the board's CEO Nizamuddin Chowhdury informed reporters yesterday.
The 32-year-old former national cricketer who returned home from America yesterday afternoon said that he had been ' waiting for this day' for a long time.
“I really want to play in the BCL. If a team decides to pick me, then good, or else I will have to keep waiting. My fitness is not a concern. For the last three years, I have done everything that a cricketer needs to do in order to be fit. I have waited for this day for three years and at the back of my mind I always told myself that I wouldn't let my return get further delayed due to fitness issues,” Ashraful told The Daily Star yesterday.
“Recently in America, I ran for 14 kilometers and I didn't have any problem. So playing longer version cricket will not be an issue for me. I am 32 right now, but my age won't be a barrier for my return. There are players like Misbah who are excelling even now. It's not the same in Bangladesh, but I am ready to take up this challenge,” he added.
Ashraful will not be eligible for international selection until 2018 but he does not seem to be worried currently about that aspect.
“At this point of time my dream is to prove myself in domestic cricket. I definitely want to play for Bangladesh, but that's not what I am thinking about at the moment,” he said.
He was also aware of the stern criticism his possible return could face.
“It's very natural that my return won't be accepted by many. I made a mistake and I admitted that and I have also received my punishment. I hope that I can be forgiven.
“I am in touch with Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] and some of the other national players. If the senior players can accept my return, then I think that will be a boost for me. People outside cricket may also not accept my return, but I have to ensure that I stay focused,” he said.
BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin, who will be entrusted with the task of selecting the players for the upcoming Bangladesh Cricket League has said that the committee will not think about considering Ashraful as long as they don't receive a directive from the BCB.
“The board hasn't given us any directions, which suggests that Ashraful is available for selection. Once the board tells us that he is available, we may start thinking about his chances,” Minhajul told The Daily Star yesterday.