Australian cricket March 5, 2013

Singing or shouting?

I covered the entire Ashes tour of England in 1989 and I hadn't looked at these photographs since that time.

© Philip Brown

I've spent quite a bit of time recently sorting through old negatives and getting some of the better ones scanned professionally. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I covered the entire Ashes tour of England in 1989 and I hadn't looked at these photographs since that time.

It's really interesting for me to go back and discover images that I'd completely forgotten about. I remember probably half a dozen images from the tour but as I'd probably taken more than 15000 pictures it is pretty difficult to remember them all.

The photograph of Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke which featured in my first-ever shot selection was taken during this tour. You have my permission to go back and read that post now.

Anyway, I came across some engaging images during my search including a photo taken inside the Australian dressing room at the Kennington Oval after the sixth and final Test match. Australia won the series 4-0 (I'm not even going to check that fact but I'm confident that it's correct) and somehow I managed to get in the room again at the right time.

One of the surprising things about the photos I've been looking at is the amazing access and cooperation that I received from the players. I managed to get Merv Hughes to pose reading some comic books and Terry Alderman posed in a deck chair at Leicester for me.

One photo that I remember very fondly is the one I took just after the Australian team had arrived at the team hotel just off Regent Street in London. I took a telephone call from journalist Jim Woodward and was asked, no, hang on, let's make that 'told' to come to the hotel at ten o'clock as Jim and a colleague were interviewing Allan Border. I arrived and I remember Jim ringing Border from the house phone at reception and the next thing we were in the elevator on our way to the captain's room.

The interview was conducted with one journalist sitting on either side of Border's bed as the Australian captain stayed in his bed and the impression I got was that he was a person who slept without pajamas.* Several different spellings are acceptable so I could offer pyjamas, PJs or simply jammies. Anyway I think you know what I mean. I was a slightly taken aback but managed to attach a lens to my Nikon FE2 and pop a flash on the top and take a few snaps as the questions were proffered and answered.

© Philip Brown

This is one negative I was keen to locate on my recent search but sadly I haven't found it yet, but I do have a book called 'Geoff Lawson's Diary of the Ashes' that includes this photograph on page 15.

I can't actually imagine Michael Clarke inviting me to his hotel room this year during the Ashes to photograph him in his bed in just his birthday suit (that means pajama free of course). It might happen but do you know what, I've been there and done that, my days of shooting cricketers in bed are behind me. I've moved on.

Let's get back to the dressing-room photograph. Pocket-sized batsman David Boon, as part of the celebrations after a Test match or series victory, would stand on the table and sing a slightly 'blue' version of "under the southern cross" at the top of his voice as his teammates joined in. This photo shows him in "full flow".

Actually I'm not sure that I would describe it as "singing". As an ex-professional singer, I think that I'm able to tell the difference between singing and just shouting. These days my party piece is to perform an amazing karaoke version of Maroon 5's "This love" and after seeing one of my performances of this in Sri Lanka it apparently inspired Graeme Swann to form his band "Dr Comfort & the lurid revelations".

I also quite like the fact that on the wall of the dressing room it says that all cars must be removed from the ground by 8.30pm. Alderman, Lawson, Steve Waugh, Ian Healy and Tom Moody are all in the photo. Plenty of the sponsor's product is also on display: the tour was sponsored by Castlemaine XXXX beer. My car boot was always full of the stuff as they struggled to get rid of the tens of thousands of cans.

It's not a really great picture but as it is now almost a quarter of a century old I think it's value or maybe significance has increased. Without trying to sound pretentious it is a piece of history now.

There was a newspaper photographer called Ted who was working around this time and whenever he was asked what he did for a living he'd reply, "I freeze history".

*I also sleep without wearing pajamas.

An Australian freelance cricket photographer based in England, Philip Brown has photographed over 150 Test matches around the world