Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 26th September 2018

MCC winning pictures are worth trip to new Warner Stand


By Charles Randall

6 April 2017

The winning cricket photograph of the year has been announced by the MCC from more than 450 entries, and the subject is a rural scene in Kashmir.

The standard for 2016 must be the highest in the seven years of the competition, which offers £2,000 to the winning photographer - Saqeeb Majeed this year. His picture of boys playing in the Nishat Bagh gardens in Srinagar is simply magical, like an oil painting of rustic idyll.

The best dozen pictures are riveting in different ways. It is hard not to smile as the eye absorbs the sheer beauty or humour revealed by the camera's lens. An exaggeration? Visitors to the new Warner Stand at Lord's can judge for themselves throughout the summer, and the top three pictures are published in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

Majeed's lovely shot of the autumnal colours of the chinar trees leads the way; the effect is enhanced by the high angle, but runner-up Philip Brown's capture of Shakib Al Hasan batting for Bangladesh against England is extraordinary. At first glance Shakib's drive in Chittagong last October looks relatively mundane until one realises there is so much dust that he could be in 'heaven' above the clouds.

The joint runner-up with Brown is Asanka Brendon Ratnayake, whose lens captured India's captain Virat Kohli pretending to warm his hands on the flames intended by the marketing people to add drama to the  T20 International against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Kohli featured more than any other player among the competition entries.

Majeed is awarded £2,000, while Brown and Ratnayake win £1,000. The three images appear at the beginning of the colour section of the 2017 edition of Wisden. As in past years the judges have selected a  'celebration' picture, the laziest way to depict 'drama' in sport, but the better entries rise well above that.

Chris Smith, chairman of the judges, seemed spot on when he commented: "Saqib’s picture was absolutely breath-taking, and a very worthy winner. A fellow judge rightly observed that the image looked more like one of the paintings in the Lord's pavilion than a digital photograph – which is testament to the quality of the winning image."

Smith added: "The last few winners of this competition have been action shots, so it was nice to be able to select something from outside the professional game. As ever, the standard of entries was fantastic, and it was a pleasure to look through such a variety of wonderful images. I would like to thank everyone who entered the competition and congratulate all those who were shortlisted."

Among the best short-listed entries is a picture by Matthew Childs of Jos Buttler and Joe Root diving in vain for a catch like a staged tableaux, Paul Miller's capture of Pat Cummins failing to hold a catch in Australia - simple but effective  - Md Rafayat Haque Khan's amazing picture of  Bangladeshi children playing cricket on drying rice at a storage centre in Chittagong.

The short-list, runners-up and eventual winner were chosen by a judging panel under Smith, a former chief sports photographer of the Sunday Times. His colleagues included those two renowned cricket photographers Patrick Eagar and Adrian Murrell, the former art director of The Cricketer magazine Nigel Davies and broadcaster Alison Mitchell.