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For the past three years I have been shooting quite a bit of cricket for the agency Reuters, which has been great. I usually shoot all the Test matches and one-day internationals that are played in England during the summer months, and I also get to cover quite a few tours and tournaments overseas.
Reuters have sent me to the West Indies, UAE and South Africa to cover cricket for them.
Last year I was really fortunate to be asked to go to the 2011 World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I was away from home for almost seven weeks. After arriving in India I covered matches in Nagpur, Bangalore and Chennai before travelling to Chittagong for an important match between Bangladesh and England.
During the entire tournament I kept myself really busy, and if I had any spare time at all, I would generally jump in the nearest tuk tuk and try and find a game of cricket to photograph or anything else interesting enough to shoot. Hotels are fine but I think I'd be doing myself a disservice by not capturing the surrounds of these cities as well. I find it liberating shooting in these parts of the world as nearly everyone is very happy to be photographed and the colours are amazing.
One morning in Chittagong, I ventured out onto the streets very early. Dozens of children were heading for school and every one of them was immaculately turned out. Many other children were about and obviously not going to school. Three young girls were collecting scraps of plastic and discarded bottles and putting them in a large sack. It was heartbreaking to view the surrounding poverty but these three girls wore the biggest smiles and it was clear that they were enjoying being photographed.
Every fifteen minutes or so after taking various photographs in these streets I would suddenly be aware that I had a crowd of possibly forty children following me. My tactic then was to buy a bag of sweets and start distributing these before handing the bag to someone else and make my escape. This worked a treat, no pun intended.
On this particular morning, down a side street I spotted a young boy throwing a ball up in the air and catching it and I began to photograph him. After a particularly high toss the ball came to rest on a roof and couldn't be retrieved. Feeling sorry for the young boy I marched off to a nearby shop and bought a replacement ball for about 40 pence, more than likely paying about twice the normal price for a tennis ball in Chittagong.
After presenting this boy with a new ball he soon began playing with it and I positioned myself right in the firing line and took some photos of him bowling about six or seven deliveries. Again this drew quite a crowd. I viewed the back of my camera after a sequence and knew instantly that I had the shot that I was after.
Everything seemed to fall into place in one shot. The ball doesn't obscure the bowler and the colours of the boy's shirt and the ball make those elements stand out. It's also apparent that the boy is enjoying himself.
The question that I am asked most about this image is "Did the ball hit you?" In case you're interested the answer is yes, but sometimes you have to suffer for your art.
I went back to the nearby Agrabad hotel and transmitted the image to Reuters in Singapore. Months later the Guardian newspaper chose the image as one of the dozen best pictures of the year which was really pleasing.
I stayed in Chittagong for a couple more days waiting for the World Cup match and had a large print of the photograph made. I left the picture in a shop near where I had taken the shot. The shopkeeper promised to give the print to the lad the next time he saw him. I hope he got it.
Specifications: Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm at 32mm, 1/1250th sec, f3.5, ISO 640
An Australian freelance cricket photographer based in England, Philip Brown has photographed over 150 Test matches around the worldFeeds: Philip Brown
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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An Australian freelance cricket photographer who has been based in England for over 20 years, Philip Brown has photographed over 150 Test matches and numerous one-day and T20 tournaments around the world. Possibly his proudest moment was winning a gold medal for barbecuing burgers and hot dogs at the Murrumbateman show.