I know, I know, I know.
I've been slack. I've let you down. I want to apologise here and now. The next exciting installment of "Shot Selection" has been long overdue. I can only beg for your mercy and promise that this will not happen till it happens the next time.
Anyway, I've heard that Sachin Tendulkar is to retire from cricket. It must be difficult for him. He's only 40-years-old, so he's obviously going to have to keep working. No one retires at 40. I mean, he couldn't have made that much money from hitting a leather-coated ball with a stick to just sit back on a balcony and relax, could he?
I've been photographing Tendulkar since he toured England in the nineties. I remember photographing him at Lord's in 1990 when he played in one of his first Test matches. Graham Gooch had scored 333 in England's innings and young Tendulkar was bowled for a mere 10 runs. I don't have the photo in hand but I remember that in my picture the bails flew pretty high. In those days the Nikon camera that I used would have shot three frames a second so I would not have had a lot of frames to choose from. Tendulkar was bowled by England's Chris Lewis. Lewis now resides in a prison after being caught smuggling drugs. How sad that is to type. He made a colossal mistake.
Once, a few years ago, while I sat in my car near the East Gate at Lord's I saw Tendulkar walking along the road. It was odd to see him in normal clothes walking on his own and although it wasn't by any stretch an earth-shattering tale, I shared it with fellow photographer Tom Shaw the next day while we worked on the side of a cricket ground. Coincidentally, a few weeks later Tom was photographing Tendulkar in a one-to-one situation and mentioned to him that a photographer that Tom knew had seen him walking along a street weeks earlier. Instantly Tom realised that it was probably the most banal bit of news that had ever been relayed to Tendulkar. So, to this day, whenever a photographer or journalist says something particularly dull, boring, or not worthy of being said, the phrase "I'll tell Sachin" will be trotted out promptly.
I went to India last year to photograph the India-England series and was a victim of the BCCI's increased control over the media. Some agencies were banned from attending, and other large agencies decided not to attend and shoot the matches at all in sympathy with the banned agencies. The newspapers in the UK then got together and decided that they would not use any live photographs from the series. This was all very bad news for a freelance photographer named Philip Brown who had spent thousands of pounds of his own money, hoping to recoup some of this outlay through photograph sales. Anyway I know that no one at the BCCI will ever lose any sleep over this fact and as a result I will never ever invite a BCCI committee member or even a staff member to one of my wonderful barbecues.
I was allowed to supply my photographs from this series to one magazine, the Cricketer. During the Mumbai Test, very late on day two, I concentrated on getting a good photograph of Tendulkar. I was at the far end of the ground, away from the other 20 or so photographers present. Tendulkar was fielding deep and the crowd was cheering his every move. That old familiar "Sachin, Sachin, Sachin, Sachin" shout was rocking the Wankhede stadium. He waved to them frequently and I knew that I had captured an image that would be useful one day, in particular the day when his retirement was announced.
So here it is. An image that should not be seen according to the BCCI. An image that the BCCI do not want me to send out, publish, export or show to anyone.
Dear BCCI, by showing this image that I took of Sachin Tendulkar I am attempting to promote your sport. I'm also attempting to pay a tribute to a great Indian sportsman. I'm sharing. You may have a problem with this, but I don't believe many others will.
Goodbye Sachin. Maybe I'll spot you on a street again one day soon, but this time I won't bother to tell Tom. Best of luck with your new career, whatever that may be.