Club Cricket Conference

Thursday, 18th July 2019

MCC Award picture enlivens new helmets debate

By Charles Randall

22 April 2016

A club batsman features in the short list of the 2015 Wisden MCC cricket photograph of the year award. The picture depicts a ball lodged almost comically behind Colin Chadwick's helmet grille.

Chadwick, of Pateley Bridge CC near Harrogate, was not hurt in the incident, even though the ball must have penetrated the gap above the grille before resting between the eyes against his spectacles. With Alastair Cook under pressure from the ECB at the start of this season to wear a new-design helmet, the picture becomes topical.

The Chadwick experience seems to show yet again that helmets do have a key point of weakness, which can only be solved by reducing the batsman's vision, perhaps dangerously so. Club players just wear what they can find and what they can afford, but professional cricketers can benefit from the latest science. Cook said he felt uncomfortable in his new head gear, and it was a pity that the authorities could not trust players to make their own judgment about their own safety.

Chadwick was struck in the face playing for Pateley Bridge against West Tanfield in Division Two of the Theakston Nidderdale Cricket League last summer and he finished with 53 not out after pausing for the special moment captured by amateur photographer Barry Gill.

The winning picture was taken by the Getty Images photographer Robert Cianflone, showing a spectacular  moment when Craig Simmons's bat blade  broke away from its handle, still connected by twine,  as though the Adelaide Strikers batsman was flying a kite during the semi-final of the Big Bash last year.

This was a well deserved winner in an area where professionals  dominate  due to hours spent at a game and the high quality of the long lenses.  A splendid array of pictures were selected by the MCC and Wisden this year, with Cianflone collecting the £2,000 first prize.  The competition, in association with JP Morgan, attracted more than 350 entries, and in my view this was possibly the best short list in six years so far.

Vishnu V Nair’s image of Mumbai players at cricket with makeshift stumps in a monsoon was named one of two £1,000 runners-up. The 'wonderful wetness' would make anyone smile. Darrian Traynor was the other runner-up  for his photo of a team of indigenous Australians playing informally on the dry banks of the Todd River in Alice Springs. This superb picture was all about light, colour and movement.

Amateur photographers were well represented by three of the short-listed 11 images. Alongside Gill was Alex Massie  with a memorable picture of a match at Booni CC  in North West Pakistan during writer Peter Oborne’s Wounded Tiger XI tour.

Chris Smith, chairman of the judging panel and former chief sports photographer of The Sunday Times, commented on the winner: "As a judge going through lots of pictures, it’s a great feeling when you come across a shot like Robert’s. It was this picture that made us stop and look. It demanded attention. All the elements came together in a beautifully composed image with no little humour. We were very impressed with the standard of photographs in general this year, and all the short-listed photographers are deserving of their prizes."

The top three images have been published in the 2016 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, and all the short-listed pictures are on display in the Lord's museum.