On September 16, 2008, Bangladesh cricket were struck by lightning as a group of 14 current and former national team players went to play in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) for the team named Dhaka Warriors. The members of that team were banned immediately by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). Though some years into it, the ban was uplifted and the players could return to cricket in Bangladesh.
Shahriar Nafees, one of the members of that team, opened up about their journey to ICL on his Facebook page after almost 12 years of the event.
In the video, Nafees talked about Mohammad Ashraful's role in forming the team, how the team was built and BCB's actions during that time.
Nafees said in the video that he knew about ICL since its inception in 2007. But he first knew about playing in the tournament from his teammate and then skipper Mohammad Ashraful.
"We were training for the Asia Cup in Dhaka. In one evening, skipper Mohammad Ashraful came up to me and asked what I would do if I had the offer of playing a T20 league abroad. I was a little surprised to hear the question and after giving it some thought I said that I would not consider playing in a foreign T20 league because I was not thinking anything about it. But the events of the next 3-4 months forced me to think about it," Nafees said.
He added, "After returning from a disastrous Asia Cup campaign, Kaustav Lahiri, an agent of ICL called me from India and gave me the proposal of playing in the ICL. Ashraful had approached me earlier but he was not an official. After Lahiri's offer, I started to think about it. Kaustav Lahiri is a well-known agent of many players and coaches."
Nafees said that he discussed with his family after receiving the offer about if he should go and what would be the consequences. Nafees added that he did not discuss it with any cricket-related personnel.
Nafees added that it was Kaustav Lahiri who had put together the Dhaka Warriors team after picking up players individually.
There is a rumour in Bangladesh cricket that Mohammad Ashraful, the then skipper, put together the team for ICL but pulled himself out at the very last moment. Nafees revealed that it was not completely false and was partially true.
"The rumour is partially true. Ashraful was the first player to receive the offer (of playing in ICL). We came to know this later but when the ICL authority decided to field a team from Bangladesh, they contacted Ashraful. The proposal was like this that Ashraful would definitely play and Ashraful would form the team. This had gone a long way and Ashraful had managed to almost form a team. But then Lahiri came in and formed the team. Not all of the players Ashraful had picked made it to the ICl, some of them did," Nafees revealed.
Nafees also revealed a shocking truth that the board officials knew about this endeavour but did not stop or warn any of them before they actually went to play in ICL.
"Our coach was Jamie Siddons back then, he knew about the whole thing. The selectors and as far as I remember, most of the BCB officials knew that such an offer was made to Bangladeshi cricketers. But they neither intervened nor did anything. After we joined ICL, we were banned. Before that, no kind of talks or negotiation with the board happened as nobody from the board took it seriously" Nafees infomed.
Nafees has been often considered as one of the finest batsmen Bangladesh has produced. Nafees played in 24 Tests, 75 ODIs and one T20I for Bangladesh, scoring over three thousand runs.