A T20 merry-go-round, and a jelly-bean investigation
T20 cricket started in 2003 - June 13, to be exact. I'm sure that young boys and girls had organised games of 20 overs a long time before that, but I'm going to nail my colours to the mast and state that I believe T20 cricket officially started on that date.
The England and Wales Cricket Board scheduled the first matches of the new competition and I travelled down to the Rose Bowl, near Southampton, with my camera gear to see what all the fuss was about. There were coloured outfits on the players, but we'd all seen that before. There was a merry-go-round* quite near the boundary, which I'm not sure that I had seen before or for that matter have seen since.
There was a face-painting booth. There was a grumpy cricketer called Nasser Hussain who was going to have his first outing as a commentator, and he looked decidedly nervous. A small motorbike roared around the boundary delivering pizza to lucky spectators. There were space-age-looking dugouts that were new to me.
Covering the match for the Daily Telegraph, I thought these peripheral things on this historic evening were more important than a run-of-the-mill action shot from the game, Hampshire Hawks versus Sussex Sharks.
I hung about near the dugout with a wide angle lens and attempted to capture an image to cleverly illustrate this new form of cricket. I got a photo of Robin Martin-Jenkins sitting in the dugout next to some bananas and an open packet of jelly babies. He was wearing gloves, so that probably meant that he didn't attempt to eat a banana or a baby.
Batsmen are at a disadvantage in that it is quite difficult to eat most foods while wearing batting gloves. Fielders and bowlers can enjoy a field day tucking into whatever they like, encumbered by some form of finger, knuckle and nail protection. I once watched a ravenous Zaheer Khan devour a sandwich while fielding at Trent Bridge during a Test match. The most amazing thing was that there were only a few minutes left till the tea break. I'll include photographic proof as there have been some wild accusations made in the past that I make things up.
That particular Test became very well known, as some jelly beans were left near the stumps by an England player, which completely wound up poor Zaheer the following day. I suspect that it was the fact that he found the scrumptious confectionery impossible to pick up without removing his gloves so infuriating. Please note that jelly beans are very different to jelly babies. A jelly bean dropped from a seven-storey building or substantial car park could seriously injure a hamster; a jelly baby dropped from the same height would merely annoy it.
The guilty player who left the jelly beans near the batting crease has never been revealed but my sources tell me that an England batsman with a name that rhymes with "tell", "fell", "sell" and "yell" may well be the guilty party. The England captain, Michael Vaughan, had to apologise for the jelly-bean prank, and let it be noted that he has never been knighted. Her Majesty the Queen would in no way have seen the funny side of these immature schoolboy japes when this team was representing her domain.
Back to the Rose Bowl, where Shark and batsman-in-waiting Mushtaq Ahmed eventually relaxed and stretched out on the grass. I was pretty sure that that was as interesting an image as any I was going to extract from the evening. Now T20 has become a bashing, electric, blink-of-an-eye form of cricket, and looking back at my photograph it doesn't really sum up at all what this form of the game has become. Now it's all cheerleaders, fireworks, Bollywood stars, match-fixing, more fireworks, acrobats, booming music, shouting, cheering, and some extreme silliness.
Unfortunately for me, there was a match in Worcester on the same evening, featuring Worcester Royals and Gloucestershire Gladiators. There was a hot tub on the boundary and as some suitably clad individuals were photographed frolicking in the water, the Daily Telegraph preferred to use a photo of that than one of my limited selection from 122 miles south.
(The digital file did not record focal length, shutter speed, camera, ISO, or anything for that matter. It was 13 years ago!)
By the way, Mushtaq Ahmed scored 16 and his team lost.
The World T20 kicks off in India in a couple of days and should be an intoxicating spectacle. I wish I was covering it, but I'll just have to sit back here in London and make do with this packet of jelly babies (or beans). Nom nom nom.
I've also included a reconstruction of what the jelly beans may have looked like near the batting crease at Trent Bridge. I have no way of telling what colours the original beans were. Enjoy the World T20, and please contact me in the comments section if you see any batsmen eating with their gloves on.
*Health and Safety might have something to say about unsuspecting spectators riding a merry-go-round when a hard cricket ball could arrive at any time and knock them clean off their selected horse. Little wonder I've not seen a merry-go-round in a cricket ground since. Utter madness.
An Australian freelance cricket photographer based in England, Philip Brown has photographed over 150 Test matches around the world