DTG Interviews 1 Tip 1 Hand

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DTG: What exactly inspired you to make a cricket podcast?

Ash: That's a great question. So, there's three of us who run it [the podcast]: there's myself [Ashwin], I live in the US; there's my brother, Varun, who lives in Singapore; and the third co-podcaster's name is DJ and he's lawyer who lives in London. We've known each other for quite some now and a couple of years ago, we started this website called 1tip1hand.com, just to write about cricket. We were [already] talking and messaging about cricket all the time, but then we then realized we should maybe put it [the effort] into something more formal. So, we started writing for 1tip1hand.com, and over time the site started to grow rapidly and especially during the IPL season. We [actually] started writing about cricket when we used to write about competitive IPL themed fantasy matches that 20+ players collectively hosted and participated. But with time [progressing] and our jobs getting more hectic, it became increasingly more difficult to keep writing [sufficient] to keep the written-website-platform growing and that's when we had the idea of instead of constantly falling behind writing articles, we could rather just get together and talk about the show [cricket]. So, we first started [broadcasting] it on Facebook Live, and the people would chat [actively engage] with us and send in questions. That's when we started to evolve and eventually, we transformed into a weekly podcast. So, now we air an episode once a week, where the three of us get together and have a chat. Sometimes we do collaborations and interviews with friends of ours as the guests of the show. Initially we weren't sure if this was to continue, but now we're onto 30 episodes and we're still loving it - has been great fun.

DTG: How good have Afghanistan been in this Asia Cup? And, did you see Bangladesh making the final [of the Asia Cup]?

Ash: I’ve actually said in my show that I felt that this [the tournament] was both, a bad advertisement of cricket as well as an amazing advertisement of it. What I mean by that was that it was unfortunate to see Sri Lanka and Pakistan falling behind what was expected of them, considering that both the teams are former World Cup Champions and have been ranked #1 at some point in their [respective] histories. On the flip side, it was amazing to see Afghanistan play the way that they did. The Asia Cup points' table doesn't any justice to how Afghanistan played [in the tournament]. They worked really hard and took every single game to pretty much the last over of the innings. Where they faltered - some bowling changes and field placing - was because of lack of experience and temperament, and that [definitely] comes with time. I was really excited to see them do well. In fact, since the match between India and Afghanistan was [deemed] a dead rubber, I was not upset when it ended in a tie, although I must admit that I would've been a little bit sad if India had lost. The tie was a great result and it would mean a lot to the deserved Afghanistan nation. Another thing is that, they have also been playing high quality cricket - from the unbelievable century by Mohammad Shahzad to Rashid Khan, what can one even say about him. He's outstanding and still very young. All in all, very excited to see Afghanistan do well [in the future].

Although on paper, none of us expected Bangladesh [to reach the finals], but I believe we should have. If you look at the record, this is their third Asia Cup Final in the last four editions, and they also reached the final of the Nidahas Trophy in the beginning of this year, so although they didn't manage to win any of them, we should have still expected them to be on there [final]. I believe they are continuing to grow as a force and they now just need to convert [their form and potential through group stages] and seal those trophies.

DTG: Would this tournament have been absolutely majestic if both, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, had lived up to how they were expected to perform? 

Ash: I really think so. As a fan of the Indian and Asian game, it would have been amazing to see India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan play competitively. If you look back [at history], with the overrepresentation of Asia [in International Cricket], we haven't won as many games [World Cups] as we should have. I believe there's a really bright future ahead for the Asian countries in Cricket, but it is essential that all 5 teams contribute to the tournament, and make it what has potential to achieve – becoming the cricket equivalent of The Euro Cup. It [Asia Cup] should be a very big deal, and I hope it gets there.

DTG: Let's discuss the elephant in the room - Pakistan's horrendous performance in the Asia Cup. Looking from afar, what is your outlook on the reasoning behind this disaster, which areas we can improve on, and what long-term planning should we undertake to ensure that this doesn't ever repeat?

Ash: That's quite a loaded question. Most of us, Indian fans, have been pretty disappointed with the fact, that the last 4 matches between Pakistan and India have been very one-sided. In the Champion's Trophy, Pakistan had record breaking margin of win over India and these last two games [in the Asia Cup] have been very one sided as well. Nobody likes a one sided match. Although we want our side to win eventually, but you still want the match to drag to the last 2 or 3 overs. So, I hope that we get back to the stage where matches are [competitive] again.

As an Indian fan, I will tell you that fast bowling has always been area that Pakistan has had an edge over us. Reminiscing back to those incredible and unbelievable fast bowlers that Pakistan have had: Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib and etc.  India has always been short on that. In the 90s, it was our batting and spin bowling that used to win India matches, it was never the fast bowling. Even in the recent Champion's Trophy final, Amir's amazing spell reduced India for 15-3 [12-3]. Something like that was missing from Pakistan this time around. It is certainly worth considering that the games were played in the UAE, where spin should have been the more major contribution. However, looking at history, fast bowling has always been Pakistan's edge - even on the flattest of decks. I would love to see those really quick fast bowlers, that could swing the ball both ways and reverse it like Wasim, coming out of Pakistan again. In batting department, there's always really been only one or two good batsmen and the rest just rotate through. You expect that [lack of batting] with Pakistan. That's why I would love to see the resurgence of Pakistan fast bowling.

I think Shaheen played really well and it was good to see him run in hard and bowl well. But, I still think he needs a [experienced] strike bowler to back him up. 

DTG: We now see blokes like, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, bowling beautifully with the new cherry and then becoming absolutely unplayable at the death with their [accurate] yorkers. What has sparked this amazing transformation in mindset of Indian fast bowling [as a whole]? Has IPL had any impact on how these players have developed over the years?

Ash: That's a great point. It's [in fact] the resurgence of fast bowling that has given the edge to the Indian Team in the last few years. Not to discredit the great batsmen, Virat has been amazing, and the good spinners we have had in the time period, but [it's important to note] that we've always had those. It's always been the pace bowling department where we have lacked, and that's why it's fantastic for me, as an Indian fan, to see Bumrah and Bhuvi improve their game as they have. Also, [let's not forget], Ishant has also upped his game in the tests and Umesh, I believe, would have been the lead bowler for India in any other generation. To answer [the second part of] your question, all of us on the show are big fans of the IPL, and it has been a really big game changer [for India]. As [the interest in] T20s started to grow, IPL gave players like Bumrah amazing opportunities. As only a young player, he had to quickly adapt to bowling at set players of the caliber of Gayle and McCullum at the death - he had to learn to bowl those [pin-point] yorkers. Although, it is a tricky transition [from T20s] to Tests, but just the sheer pressure of 60,000 onlookers the fast bowler has had the experience to face through the IPL, has been the driving force behind India's pace bowling [success story].

DTG: Although, as you said, IPL provides with ample opportunities for players [pace battery] to improve, but this is only available to a select few. So, does the Indian cricket domestic and in turn, the entire country's cricket fraternity also facilitate the evolution that we are seeing: evolving from a batting centric [culture] to a bowling centric one? Also, who is THE upcoming fast bowler from India that we should look out for?

Ash: I think for every country that supports a [separate] domestic structure as well as a [lucrative] T20 franchise competitions, it will be difficult to find the [optimum] balance. It's important to consider, that the sad reality for a country like India, is that it is hard even to make a living off solely playing domestics. [Domestic circuits] aren't as well paid, and the accessible facilities aren't all that great either. Whereas, in T20s, you just try and get a good franchise contract, perform well for them, play for eight weeks and you will have had made sufficient money to last the year. You don't even have to make the national team anymore. But, I believe the IPL and the domestics work hand in hand.

To answer your question on the young new talent, I really liked watching Khaleel Ahmed bowl in the Asia Cup. He's still very raw, but he has two [attributes] that I really value. One, he's a left-arm bowler. When we look back to the time, we had Zaheer Khan, who was an icon of the Indian fast bowling, and more recently, when we look at Sam Curran, the young left-armer who tore through the Indian Batting line up on a couple of occasions, we realize the value of having diversity in your attack. I'm not implying that it's imperative to have a left-armer in your side at any cost, so obviously never pick a sub-par left armer [just for the sake of it] but having a decent left-arm seamer in your [pre-dominantly] right handed attack is a huge asset. Second, he also has raw pace. We have seen instances in the past, where a bowler like young Irfan Pathan, arrives on the scene [equipped] with explosive pace, but the pace is then coached out of him, as a sacrifice for better line and length. It's good to see that this mindset is shifting in favor of out-and-out pace. Just in a recent match between England Lions and India A, all the bowlers from the Indian pace battery were quicker than all the English fast bowlers. I have never seen that before, and I am extremely excited for the future.  

DTG: Is Khaleel Ahmed a IPL product or a domestic product? 

Ash: Pure domestic product. He hasn't really played much IPL. He spent 8-10 weeks under the wing of coach Zaheer Khan in the summer, and he's prominently come up through [the age ranks] u19 cricket. I have no doubt, he'll easily get an IPL contract in the next couple of years, if not this one.

DTG: Pakistan and India have had several fierce battles in the past few decades, but what has been your favorite memory of this rivalry? 

Ash: Every time someone asks me this question, a distinct memory pops up in my head - the 1996 world. [Laughter and chuckles on going]. Aamer Sohail hits Venkatesh Prasad for a boundary but he doesn't stop there. He basically sledges and points his bat to the boundary rope indicating that he is going slap the next ball into that region too. As our name suggest [Edges & Sledges], we enjoy sledging in the game, but it was just as much fun seeing Prasad going through the gate and getting Aamer bowled. Part of what makes that interesting is that Prasad is normally a very soft and cultured individual, so it was great to see him bring that aggression into the game.  

DTG: Where can our listeners find your work?

Ash: Our show is called, Edges & Sledges, and you can find us on any platform that broadcasts podcasts [RSS feeds]. Also, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where we go by ‘1tip1hand’. You can also check out our website: 1tip1hand.com.