Dhaka: Bangladesh cricket fans, players and newspapers reacted with shock and dismay on Wednesday to the tearful confession by former national captain Mohammad Ashraful that he had been involved in match-fixing. Ashraful, who became the country's youngest Test centurion in 2001 at the age of 17, on Tuesday apologised for his wrongdoing and said he had detailed his role in fixing to anti-corruption officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The news made the front pages of all Bangladesh's national newspapers with The Daily Star's front page showing a photograph of weeping Ashraful next to a headline that read "People's prince turns pauper". Another English daily, New Age, ran a story under the headline "The rise and fall of a superstar". Faruque Ahmed, the national chief selector when Ashraful was made captain in 2007, said he was the finest cricketer the country had ever produced.
"He was the first mega-star for Bangladesh cricket and this is very shocking and sad news, especially when he confessed his involvement in corruption," Ahmed told AFP. A former coach of the the right-handed big-hitter said he could not understand why Ashraful became involved with fixing. "I am shocked, hurt with his public confession. I knew him for many years. I did not see any bad element in him when I coached him" when he was a child, Waheedul Gani told AFP. Legions of the cricketers followers also spoke of their disappointment.
"I was a wild fan of Ashraful," Faozul Kabir, a Dhaka University student told AFP. "Now, no matter how important his contribution was, he should get exemplary punishment so that none could dare follow his path in the future to keep the game clean. "The 28-year-old apologised shortly after he was suspended by the BCB pending a full investigation by the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU).
ACSU has been probing allegations of match-fixing during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), a Twenty20 competition, and is expected to report its findings to Bangladesh authorities within a week. The alleged fixing involves a match between the Dhaka Gladiators and the Chittagong Kings during the second edition of the BPL. Local media have reported that Ashraful was allegedly paid about one million taka (USD 12,800) to lose the match on February 2.