Dhaka: Mohammad Ashraful's admission to match and spot-fixing has seriously dented Bangladesh's pride, his former captain and team-mate Mushfiqur Rahim has said, but that he would be welcomed back into the team if permitted to resume his cricketing career.
Ashraful, who became the country's youngest Test centurion in 2001 at the age of 17, last Tuesday apologised for his wrongdoing and said he had detailed his role in fixing to anti-corruption officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Mushfiqur termed Ashraful's admission as a "loss of pride". "Our pride was in the knowledge that none of our players are involved in such things. A few of our players got offers but said no, so hats off to them. It was a matter of pride that whether we played badly, nobody was in this business. The investigation is still ongoing but what has happened is very wrong.
"I felt bad at first. I couldn't believe it. Afterwards, if you talk about the reality the investigation is still ongoing but when I heard it from him, I felt worse. Taking the BPL matches aside, when I heard about the international matches, I felt it was unusual and unbelievable."
Ashraful admitted to match and spot-fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League after being suspended by the BCB and is being investigated by the ICC. Mushfiqur said he had no inkling of his team-mate's illegal activities despite having played with him for eight years.
"We have been with him for so long, but we never realised what was going on. Mashrafe [Mortaza] bhai said that he slept in his room. If he is guilty, he should be given punishment. Our younger players should know this is a big crime. You cannot betray a nation, it doesn't matter how big or small a player you are.
"I hope he returns to cricket quickly," added Mushfiqur.