May 15, 2014

Bruises and babies

Aussie hard-case in smiling-with-infant shocker

© Philip Brown

Ricky Ponting was a fixture in the Australian cricket team for many, many years, but I think it's accurate to say he wasn't very popular with cricket fans around the world. I believe that fans, especially England fans, disliked him because he was simply a very good player.

One way of telling just how much talent a sportsman has is to add up the amount of abuse, insults, booing and name-calling he receives. If lots of people seem to dislike him, there is an excellent chance he is a good player.

Anyway, Ricky was, I think we can all agree, a very gifted batsman and a fairly good captain. He had a long career after an unpromising start, when the Australian cricket board lined him up in a press conference where he had to explain why he was sporting a black eye after a fight in the notorious Bourbon and Beefsteak pub in Sydney's Kings Cross.

I once had an unfortunate evening myself in the same Kings Cross pub, when after a romantic first date I came out to discover that my car battery was flat as I had left my headlights on. My date disappeared in the back of a taxi, and sadly there wasn't a second date.

Anyway, Ricky learnt from his mistake and threw himself into his cricket. I learnt from my mistake and stopped dating.

Fast forward a few years to the 2009 Ashes series and Ricky was the Australia cricket captain. He captained Australia in four Ashes series. The good news for him was that during those series he won eight Test matches and only lost seven. The bad news was, he lost three of the four series.

After Australia had wrapped up the Headingley Test of 2009, I started to pack up all my equipment, which involved climbing up into the stand to retrieve my remote camera. When I returned to ground level, my good friend and the doyen of cricket photographers Patrick Eagar pointed out that Ponting had come out of the dressing room and was heading towards a large group of supporters and family.

I grabbed my camera with a 70-200mm lens attached and ran around to that part of the ground, just as Ricky lifted his young daughter Emmy out of her mother's arms. He walked back onto the field and sat down on the grass, playing with his daughter for a few minutes. The first frame above was by far the best of the several that I took. Both of them seem to be completely engrossed in each other; there were dozens of people about but Ricky and Emmy seemed oblivious to them all.

I loaded the photographs onto my computer, chose the best frame, captioned it and sent it straight to Reuters. It got a lot of uses in the newspapers the following day. I got a large print made up for Ricky and gave it to him before the next Test match, at the Oval. I've heard from Mrs Ponting that it is now framed and in his study.

Camera: Nikon D300; 1/1000th sec; 70-200mm lens at 116mm; Aperture - f4.5

© Philip Brown

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

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