Second Innings: The Refugee Cricket Project

A few months ago, while the Indian Premier League was on someone on our fantasy cricket Whatsapp group asked the others to make a guess at Rashid Khan’s age. Estimates varied between 30 and 600. Some Shahid Afridi jokes were thrown in for good measure.

The answer – 20 September 1998, making Rashid Khan 18. The wise one on our Whatsapp Group said – “When you have the Taliban in your backyard, you age faster“.

True that.

“Second Innings” is a Guardian documentary which follows the stories of three young men – Rafi, Babar and Mati – refugees to the UK from Afghanistan. It focuses on the Refugee Cricket Project, organised by the Refugee Council. The project was born from the recognition that cricket, which is becoming a highly popular sport in Afghanistan, was a way of building confidence in these young men. The project involves weekly matches against teams ranging from the MCC to the “mixed clergy”. You can read more about the Refugee Cricket Project here.

The documentary also gives us a little glimpse into the issues faced by asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and how cricket has helped these young men go about their lives. The telling line – “When they go and play these matches, they are seen as sportsmen first and refugees second”.

While the documentary doesn’t directly mention it, it also puts into context the monumental achievement by the Afghanistan cricket team, which received test status on 22 June 2017. The team was set up by refugees who had fled to Pakistan.

Watch the 19 minute documentary here.

Second Innings is commissioned by the Guardian and supported by Natwest. You can read more about the film-makers and the film itself here.

ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Preview & Top Fantasy Cricket picks

Bored of playing the same old fantasy cricket league? Ready to try something new this ICC Champions Trophy? Read on…

We are excited to announce the free-to-play 1Tip1Hand fantasy league on Fanto.

We think Fanto brings a different approach to fantasy cricket, removing budgets and simplifying substitutions by having an unlimited transfer window after every round of fixtures (4 matches). Registration takes 2 minutes and you can use the league pin BEC50D3004 to compete in our league. Check it out here to make the ICC Champions Trophy even more exciting!

To help you pick your winning combo, we have set out below our team previews and key players. Happy fantasy-ing!

Group A

England, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand.

England

One of the front-runners and favourites to win Group A, Morgan’s merry men have slipped nicely into their groove with a series win over South Africa, the world’s number 1 ODI side.

Players to watch

Ben Stokes

High on confidence, this million-dollar man helped the Pune Supergiant make the IPL finals this year. A game changer with bat and ball, Stokes is an asset any team would love to have. Leading up to the Champions Trophy, he has two centuries in his last six innings. The only question mark remaining is over his fitness..

Jason Roy

Although he’s been in relatively poor form of late, Jason Roy is the man for big occasions. Although he averages just 18 in the last 3 months, his overall ODI average is still at nearly 40 in all ODIs, striking at over 100. England look fierce if he fires in partnership with Hales at the top.

Mark Wood

In a team usually known for their fast bowling prowess, Wood seems underwhelming with just 14 ODIs under his belt at age 27. However, he brings real pace, consistently clocking 148-149 kmph, which can get some serious bite on English pitches. He will be a real threat in partnership with Plunkett and Stokes and his match-winning last over on Saturday will have done his confidence no harm whatsoever.

Bangladesh

Despite having missed out on the last two editions of the ICC Champions Trophy (in 09 and 13), in an unusual twist, Bangladesh is ranked #6 at the start of the tournament, which puts them ahead of both Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Players to watch

Tamim Iqbal

What does one say about Tamim? This little powerhouse has been a key reason for Bangladesh’s success in the past 2-3 years. He even racked up another century in the warm-up against Pakistan, and his current form is superb – he averages over 80 since April.

Mashrafe Mortaza

Captain Mortaza brings as much to the field with his leadership and experience, as he does with his bowling. While not the explosive wicket-taker, he can be relied on to pick up 1-2 wickets per game and keep the economy rate down – his career ODI economy rate is just 4.75.

Mustafizur Rahman

Unlike his experienced compatriots, the 21-year old “fizz” burst onto the scene in 2016 and had a great IPL that year, picking up 17 wickets with the lowest economy rate among bowlers with 13 or more wickets. Opposition batsmen may look to play out his overs but it won’t be easy – he’s picked up two 4-fors in his last six outings.

Australia

The World Cup champions and always a force to reckon with. The Aussies are currently embroiled in a pay dispute with Cricket Australia and have made it clear that winning the ICC Champions Trophy is their priority. Write them off at your own peril.

Players to watch

Pat Cummins

Aussie cricket fans will be thrilled that Cummins returned to full fitness and played lots of IPL recently. Given his incredible run in the 2011-12 season, it’s hard to believe had has just turned 24. In partnership with Starc, Hazlewood and Pattinson, the Aussie fast bowling line-up is the best in this year’s tournament.

Steve Smith

Test average of 61, ODI average of 43, and an incredible test season in India this spring. Smith is Australia’s captain supreme and undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in the world at the moment.

Chris Lynn

A rather polarizing figure, Lynn is by no means guaranteed a spot in the playing XI. However, his T20 record is outstanding – he averages nearly 37 at a strike rate of nearly 150 after 92 matches. If he can translate even a tiny bit of that form into the first 15 overs, Australia will be sitting pretty early on.

New Zealand

The World Cup runners-up and winners of the ICC Champions Trophy’s previous avatar, the ICC knock-out, in 2000. The Kiwis are not seen as minnows any longer and their qualification for the semis will not be seen as a fluke or an upset.

Players to watch

Kane Williamson

With an average of 46 and 29 half-centuries under his belt, Williamson is undoubtedly one of the world’s top batsmen at the moment. Those who worried about his strike rate would have been pleasantly surprised by his stunning 89 off just 51 balls in his first IPL 2017 match.

Colin de Grandhomme

A poor man’s Ben Stokes, CdG at age 30 has lots of first-class experience but very little international experience, having played just 9 ODIs. However, with a first class average over 35 with the bat and more than 200 wickets with the ball, he’s an asset at #7 for New Zealand.

Trent Boult

Although he lost his spot to Woakes for most of the IPL 2017 season, Boult offers incredible variety in the powerplay and the death overs. He has 87 ODI wickets from just 48 outings, with an economy rate of under five runs an over  – figures that most fast bowlers would take in a heartbeat.

Group A qualifier predicition: England and Australia.

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Group B

Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India.

Pakistan

Which Pakistan will turn up? Will it be the world-beating team we know they can be or will they lose direction in their first major tournament without Misbah and Afridi? No one knows but it promises to be crazy exciting!

Players to watch

Ahmed Shehzad

Shehzad has been around for many years now and although he is only 25, this is his chance to show that he is a talent to be retained. He has been given a number of chances and even though he has had some promising opening performances in the past, his ODI average is only 33. Pakistan’s strength has always been their bowling and if they are to make it to the semis in the tournament, Shehzad will have to make significant contributions on the batting front.

Mohammad Amir

England is where Amir’s career ended in 2010 and it’s where he made his comeback. As his love-hate relationship with English crowds continues, Pakistan will be looking to Amir for some early wickets and yorkers at the death. He has picked up 50 ODI wickets in 32 matches and on his day can scythe through the best batting line-up.

Wahab Riaz

Wahab will be remembered for his menacing spell against Australia in the 2015 World Cup. He almost single-handedly turned that game around in Pakistan’s favour and, with more luck, would have won it for them. A wholehearted cricketer, expect him to extract some pace and bounce on English pitches!

South Africa

South Africa somehow managed to lose the ODI series against England, raising old doubts about their pedigree at ICC tournaments. Chokers or champions? Only time will tell.

Players to watch

Quinton De Kock

Despite having Amla, DeVilliers and Duminy in the side, South Africa will be looking to De Kock to continue his sublime form. He averages 43 in ODIs and is coming into the tournament with 98 in his last innings against England. He paces his innings fantastically well and his keeping is always neat.

AB de Villiers

ABdV comes into the tournament after a poor IPL but how does one write off the man with the fastest hundred of all time? Expect fireworks from the South African skipper.

Kagiso Rabada

Only 22 years of age, Rabada has proved that he is a genuine fast bowler, one who can bowl at 150 kmph. South Africa will want to unleash him early in the league stage – the other three teams are from the sub-continent and may not be comfortable playing stuff directed at their throats.

Sri Lanka

With their stalwarts retired, a new look Sri Lankan team starts off as the underdogs. They will try hard but lack the firepower to make it out of the group.

Players to watch

Angelo Matthews

Skipper Angelo would want to script a dream story for them – without any super stars, we believe he will have to play a crucial leadership role so that everyone in the team contributes to its success. He will be feeling reasonably confident having picked up a century in a warm-up match.

Thisara Perera

We are picking Perera as one of the key players due to his experience in the last few years with IPL and his all round cricketing ability. He will be important in the slog overs and has a knack of picking up wickets. Although he averages only 17 in ODIs his big hitting can be important especially when Sri Lanka chases

Niroshan Dickwella

Dickwella is an explosive left hand wicket keeper batsman, one that Sri Lanka hopes will fill Sangakara’s boots. While that is a herculean task, Sri Lanka will look to him to continue his aggressive style of batting. He is coming back from a hairline fracture injury and will want to make an impact early in the tournament.

India

Last, but by no means the least, the defending champions. A good mix of youth and experience, anything less than a semi-final berth will be seen as a failure by the adoring fans. Speaking of fans, Kohli’s men will expect noisy homelike conditions with all India’s matches being sold out months in advance.

Players to watch

Virat Kohli

Along with Williamson, Smith, AB de Villiers and Joe Root, Kohli is one of the defining batsmen of his generation. He also seems to relish the added pressure captaincy brings. Averaging a shade below 50 in all 3 formats, he will want to get his hands on his first piece of ICC silverware as skipper.

Ravindra Jadeja

After a poor IPL (5 wickets and 158 runs), Sir Jadeja will be raring to contribute to this Champions Trophy campaign. He has his best results while bowling in tandem with Ashwin and Indian fans will be excited to see the spin duo return to action against Pakistan.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Until recently India’s success relied largely on batsmen and spinners. However, heading into this tournament there has been much excitement about India’s pace attack. Bhuvi, Umesh, Bumrah and Shami have all been in stellar form but Bhuvi for us is the real trump card. He has always been difficult to play with the new ball and has enjoyed English conditions last time around. Now, as his consecutive IPL purple caps demonstrate, opposing batsmen also fear him in the death overs.

Group B qualifier prediction: India and South Africa.

IPL 2017 Preview: Part 1

The IPL 2017 is nearly upon us – it kicks off on Wednesday, 5 April 2017 with current champions Sunrisers Hyderabad taking on last year’s runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore.

To get you in the mood, we’ve put together a preview of all the teams. Here is the first part covering Royal Challengers Bangalore, Surnrisers Hyderabad, Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants. Part 2 will be up on the blog on Tuesday.

Buckle in and enjoy the ride.

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Skipper:                                 Virat Kohli

2016 Finish:                          Runners Up

Best Finish Ever:                  2009, 2011 and 2016 runners-up

First Match:                           Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. RCB at Hyderabad, April 5, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      As always, explosive batting, limited marquee bowlers (in fact, just the one)

Players to Watch:

  1. Tymal Mills: The 12-crore man, Mills is a T20 specialist, though he picked up just 7 wickets in 5 matches in the PSL, so will look to deliver this IPL.
  2. AB de Villiers: Need we say more? IPL average nearly 40, strike rate nearly 150.
  3. Tabraiz Shamsi: Though he might struggle to make the playing XI, Shamsi is a useful lesser known bowler whose Chinaman can prove tricky to read

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Skipper:                                 David Warner

2016 Finish:                          Champions

Best Finish Ever:                  2016 Champions

First Match:                           Sunrisers Hyderabad vs. RCB at Hyderabad, April 5, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Top order and fast bowling heavy; light on spin and lower order batsmen

Players to Watch:

  1. Mustafizur Rahman: Nearly unplayable, he picked up 17 wickets at 6.90 in 2016 with his outstanding yorker.
  2. Shikhar Dhawan: Though his Team India spot is up for grabs, there’s no debating his IPL prowess. 500+ runs in 2016, 3000+ all time.
  3. Rashid Khan: He might struggle to make the playing XI, but this Afghan bowls a mean googly and would relish any chance he gets in the IPL.

Mumbai Indians

Skipper:                                  Rohit Sharma

2016 Finish:                          #5 of 8 for the second year in a row

Best Finish Ever:                  2013 and 2015 Winners

First Match:                           Rising Pune Supergiants vs. Mumbai Indians at Pune, April 6, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Light on overseas batsmen; all-rounder and bowler heavy

Players to Watch:

  1. Krunal Pandya: The older Pandya surged to success in 2016 – he will want to pick up where he left off with both bat and ball
  2. Lasith Malinga: IPL’s all time highest wicket taker by some distance, his toe-crushing yorkers are feared by all
  3. Parthiv Patel: Quietly, PP has racked up 500+ runs for MI in just 2 seasons.

Rising Pune Supergiants

Skipper:                                  Steven Smith

2016 Finish:                          #7 of 8

Best Finish Ever:                  Sadly, #7 – 2016 was their first ever IPL

First Match:                           Rising Pune Supergiants vs. Mumbai Indians at Pune, April 6, 2017 at 8pm IST

Team Balance:                      Light on Indian batsmen and overseas bowlers

Players to Watch:

  1. Adam Zampa: Few will forget his 6-19 in the 2016 that shot him into the limelight
  2. Faf du Plessis: Tremendously experienced, with nearly 4000 T20 runs and 20 half centuries
  3. Ben Stokes: The 14.5crore buy, he will need to perform with both bat and ball to justify his price tag

India’s Grand Test Season Ends (2016-17)

3-0; 4-0; 1-0; 2-1.

A football team would have been proud to win by such margins. Except, these are test matches won by India in four series this test season – New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia.

P13 W10 L1 D2

A win percentage of 76%. A loss percentage of 7.6%. Incredible numbers.

Pitches

All the talk before this home season was about turning pitches. About how Indian pitches were killing test cricket. About how India could only win on turning tracks.

Of the 13 test matches played this season, there were two pitches that turned square – Pune and Bengaluru. The others were good test wickets. Dharamsala where the Australia series concluded so dramatically was an atypical Indian wicket with pace, bounce and carry.

Tosses

India won 6 tosses out of 13. It is true that every time India won the toss, it won the test. However, India also won 4 games out of the 7 tosses it lost (with two draws and one loss), often coming from behind to beat scoreboard pressure. No luck involved there.

Character

Along the way we found out a few more things about the Indian team:

  • That Pujara might be a slow scorer, but is the backbone of the test line-up.
  • That Umesh Yadav has finally grown into the bowler he sometimes threatened to be.
  • That Saha makes runs when the going is tough.
  • That Ashwin played the Australia series with sports hernia (and will miss the IPL).
  • That Rahul played the last four test matches needing shoulder surgery (and will miss the IPL).
  • That Vijay played most of the season with a wrist and shoulder injury (and will likely miss the IPL).
  • That Kohli with three double hundreds in the season hurt his shoulder trying to save a single run for the team (and will miss part of the IPL).
  • That Kohli will carry the drinks for the team if it means he stays involved.
  • That the Indian team was obviously exhausted at the end of a long season but still put in one last heroic performance in Dharmsala to make Kohli’s India the current holder of the test trophy against every other nation.
  • That, this season, the Indian team this season put test cricket above all other forms.

IPL madness starts on Wednesday. This time, let no one say that the IPL is killing the test game.

We will remember this season of test cricket for a long, long time.

India v Australia, third test, Ranchi: Cricket’s dreaded C-Word

Our first post on this blog was way back in August 2014 – the same month we wrote about how terrible the Indian test team was at bowling, batting and fielding, and boy are we glad to see the progress Kohli’s side has made! In light of #DressingRoomGate, we decided to search our site to see just how often we had used cricket’s dreaded “C-Word” in two and a half years of blog posts, and here’s what we got:

Cricket Cheating

Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

While we have written about sportsmanship and cricket becoming a contact sport, not once in two and a half years on this blog have we used cricket’s forbidden C-Word. Indian skipper Kohli is often seen on camera screaming obscenities,  yet even he refused to say the word on camera. To quote Captain K –“I don’t want to mention the word … I would never do something like that on the cricket field”.

We’ll just go ahead and finally say it: Cheating.

That’s right, cheating – but what exactly is it? Here are some simple dictionary definitions:

  • To behave in a dishonest way in order to get what you want
  • To deprive of something valuable by the use of deceit or fraud
  • To violate rules dishonestly

The Incident

To summarise, on day four of the Bengaluru test, Aussie captain Steve Smith appeared to act in contravention of the DRS rules which state:

“If the umpires believe that the captain or batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may at their discretion decline the request for a Player Review. In particular, signals from the dressing room must not be given.”

That quick glance over to his dressing room has caused much uproar in the week since it occurred.

The Fall Out

Smith called it a ‘brain fade’, Kohli called it everything short of the c-word. Smith seems to believe it was a momentary lapse, which he regrets. Kohli claimed to have seen a pattern of abuse, and refused to buy the ‘brain fade’ explanation.The BCCI was outraged. Cricket Australia seemed unmoved by the incident but was outraged at the BCCI’s outrage. Heck, even Faf du Plessis chimed in for some reason.

The BCCI has since dropped its official complaint.

Our View

With all that said, what do we at 1 Tip 1 Hand make of it all?

To us, it made absolutely no sense that Steve Smith, with 52 tests of experience, seemed to immediately pin the blame on his partner Peter Handscomb, who was playing his 6th test. Heck, Peter Handscomb tweeted soon after to take all the blame, which now seems a bit too well-orchestrated. “Blame the new guy” is a pretty standard corporate world move, but not often used in the sporting world!

Yet, we believe in giving the benefit of the doubt, and great cricket comes above all else. The series has produced two incredible test matches, in completely different ways, and we can’t wait for the third test in Ranchi to start tomorrow. Also, calling someone is a cheat is a pretty big thing, when it comes to the gentleman’s game so we won’t label Steve Smith with the C-Word…just yet. However, Steve Smith will do well to remember that sports fans, especially Indian cricket fans, have very long memories. We won’t forget this easily and the label will stick if there are any further brain fades.

Let’s all move on now and get back to the cricket.

The 3rd test of the India-Australia Series kicks off in Ranchi on March 16th, 2017 at 9:30am IST.