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.