February 8, 2015

The sleeping Cat

Photographing the very colourful Phil Tufnell in a colourful armchair on the sidelines of a county game

© Philip Brown

It's that time again. The time when I suddenly feel guilty for not producing a Shot Selection post and put my finger (the index finger on my right hand to be precise) on an Apple keyboard.

This time I've chosen a photo of Middlesex players Phil Tufnell and Mike Roseberry that I took many years ago during a County Championship match at Southgate. I'm not sure exactly when I took it and I could spend an hour or more looking through some old press cuttings to let you know, but to be honest, I cannot be bothered. At best you would just read the exact date that the photo was taken and forget that information within 14 seconds. So what is the point of all that? I'm not going to find out exactly when I took this photo and that is final. It's roughly 1998, I reckon.

Middlesex's worst fielder Tufnell has, against all expectations, gone on to have a very successful career as a television and radio "personality". He has been on UK television screens as a dancer on the BBC show Celebrity Come Dancing, he is a team captain on A Question of Sport. He has been king of the jungle, he has been a specialist nun interviewer on the The One Show, and is currently on TV partaking in a competitive snow-based reality show called The Jump.

The Jump attempts to round up about 14 physically fit "celebrities" to compete in a variety of winter-type sports without them actually hurting themselves. Well, to be honest, they probably all hurt themselves at some stage. The show comes from Austria and Phil looks like he is having the time of his life… and no doubt he is. Phil came last in the opening broadcast of the series after his pathetic ski jump and was therefore eliminated from the competition.

Poor Phil, I hear you say. But hang on a minute! As injuries are so common to the skiing and jumping celebrities he has to stay on in the "The Jump Bar" and wait to see if he is needed in the show. He is actually being paid to be in the background of a television programme, drinking in a bar! I don't remember that as an option when I sat with a careers advisor all those years ago. But good luck to Phil.

Anyway, back to the photograph. I was covering a county match at Southgate in North London. I think Mark Ramprakash was scoring a big century out in the middle. I was amazed that there were a couple of comfortable-looking fancy armchairs just behind me that looked like they had been purchased from the George and Mildred set. (Look it up on YouTube if you don't know this classic show.)

Eventually Tufnell and Mike Roseberry sat in these chairs and I decided that I'd turn around and take a frame or two, as I thought it made quite a fun image. Tufnell was actually smoking a cigarette at the time but as I aimed my lens he moved his hand, holding the fag out of view, and pretended to be asleep.

It still made a good snap, so I was happy enough. Perhaps the penalty for being asleep during a county match was not as severe as the penalty for smoking? Who knows? Tufnell has had the nickname "The Cat" for decades, so I suppose it was even better that he posed as a sleeper. The photo was used in the Daily Telegraph the following day.

Phil Tufnell is a good guy. I really hope he survives his two weeks in the Austrian bar, and that when he returns he can again take his rightful position in various TV studios and radio booths around the country. I'm not at all sure what happened to Roseberry, by the way. I'll do some channel-hopping and see if I can locate him.

Nikon F3 camera (probably) 180mm lens Film Fuji (probably)

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

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