By Charles Randall
11 April 2019
The top prize in the Wisden-MCC picture of the year competition for 2018 has gone to an Australian this time for action during the Big Bash League.
A fine photograph of an overhead catch by Moises Henriques, of Sydney Sixers, off the visiting Melbourne Stars batsman Nick Larkin, proved a worthy winner. The qualities for a good picture were all there - movement, atmosphere, aesthetic balance, high-quality camera and a meaningful incident with the ball in view.
The photographer Phil Hillyard, of News Corp, won £2,000 for his picture, and the top three entries feature in the 2019 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. All the 11 short-listed images are displayed inside and outside the MCC Museum at Lord’s. Two runners-up were awarded £1,000 each, and the remainder £250.
The two runners-up were Mathew Lewis, a former winner from Getty Images, and Syed Mahabubul Kader, an amateur photographer from Bangladesh. Kader's entry was a fascinating picture of dockyard workers’ children playing cricket near the Buriganga River in Keraniganj, Dhaka. The viewer's eyes are tempted to linger long on the scene.
There is a very good action shot from the Birmingham & District Premier League in the short-list. Stuart Burrows, of Tamworth CC, is shown clinging one-handed to a return catch from the Bromsgrove CC batsman Ashley Newfield. Umpire Nic Cooper's evasive action adds to the fun, and the scoreboard looms large. Well done to Nigel Parker, an amateur photographer.
Phil Noble, of Reuters, impressed the judges with an evocative off-beat picture of members of the Ship Inn cricket team preparing their sea-shore pitch for a match against Obolensky’s Heroes CC. The Ship, in the Scottish village of Elie, is the only pub in Britain to play all their home games on the beach.
The selection of Lewis's picture as runner-up defies belief, and readers of this column will be aware of my view. The photograph merely shows two female players - of a sport that might or might not be cricket - celebrating something. Their high-five athleticism looks pleasing, but perhaps comeone should remind the judges that this excellent photography competition should need captions to identify the sport as cricket.
Pictures of routine celebrations are over-done in the media, a lazy way of introducing 'excitement' and 'emotion' into a page. Last year's winning Wisden-MCC picture was a close-up shot of the England women's team taking a group selfie after winning the World Cup final at Lord's. The picture was witty enough, but the incident could have been any sport at any place.
At least this year 'celebration' pictures seem to have been less favoured, with only three out of 11 in a short-list of exceptional images. The standard was clearly very high, as to be expected from more than 700 entries, so the judges, led by Chris Smith, must have have had a tricky time whittling down the list.