File photo of Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Ashraful.
Wellington: Former Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons says ex-captain Mohammad Ashraful shouldn't be judged too harshly for his involvement in match-fixing because he was likely ensnared by the "powerful beast of underworld gambling" at an early age.
Siddons, who now coaches New Zealand's Wellington province, told the Dominion-Post newspaper he alerted the Bangladesh Cricket Board and International Cricket Council to the threat of spot-fixing during his four-year term as Bangladesh coach from 2007 to 2011.
Ashraful admitted to match- and spot-fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League after being suspended by the BCB on Tuesday. He is being investigated by the ICC.
The Australian-born Siddons said he wasn't surprised to hear of Ashraful's involvement, saying "it's disappointing but I don't think it's surprising. It's a powerful beast, the underworld gambling."
Siddons said, " [I] made my thoughts known a while ago to the [Bangladesh] cricket board and the ICC," warning of the threat of spot-fixing. He said young players were often vulnerable to financial temptation and Ashraful was probably sought out by the match-fixers while still in his teens.
"People like Ashraful, he's got 15 people living in his house. He feeds probably five families and on a cricketer's wage," Siddons said. "Over there it's near impossible, so you can almost understand. It's a different world than we live in. It's a tough world for him."
Siddons said he feels disappointed for his former charge. "He's a great young kid ... He probably got roped in as a 15 year old, when he first started, by some other people. I feel a bit sorry for him, but I don't condone it at all."