Definitely Not Cricket

To my surprise I find this is not the first post I’ve written about cricket.  I’ve never really been a cricketer, and when we had the choice at school in the summer term I always opted for athletics, though we did get a little compulsory  cricket training.  I learnt the forward defensive and backward defensive strokes, but for attacking was left using the playground wallop. I don’t think I ever really got into the swing of overarm bowling either, somehow my shoulder didn’t quite let my arm follow the necessary trajectory, and my deliveries ended as slow and guileless, occasionally getting a wicket when the batsman lost patience waiting for the ball to arrive and swung too early.

Of course being English I had to play the odd game, getting roped in for various school and college sides, and even for Air India when they were desperately short of players. They were a class side, but so much class that anyone below five in the batting order (and I was well below five) seldom got a knock, and it took only a fairly short wander around by the boundary untroubled by the proximity of that nasty hard ball watching the other side coming out and going back to the pavillion before we were all back in and at the bar too.

I find I’ve even written before about my cricket photography. Back in 2001 I got a commision from the local council under an Arts Council scheme to photograph Shepperton Ladies Cricket Club, and particularly the work they were doing with young girls.  It was an interesting assignment, and one I enjoyed doing, spending far more time on it than was sensible for the money.

I wasn’t really a sports photographer, and certainly didn’t then have the kind of equipment that proper cricket photographers would have, being seriously underpowered in the telephoto area.  The longest lens I owned was a 200mm, which hardly gets you into the league, as the boundary is a serious distance from the wicket at most grounds.  I had a 2x converter, but adding that made the 200mm f5 into a 400mm f10, which even on sunny days was a lttile slow for action especially as ISO 400 film was the fastest I could sensibly use. Even in bright sun I needed to work wide open to get a suitably fast shutter speed of 1/500th, and wide open with a 2x converter was never too sharp.

Without the converter, things were rather better, but few of the pictures I made were absolutely sharp, and even fewer managed to be from the right position at the right time. This didn’t worry me, because this wasn’t really what I was trying to do, and the real work I was making was in black and white, with a 65mm wideangle on 6×7, both of the ladies team but more importantly of the work they were doing with girls from a very young age.

Cricket wasn’t seen by those training the girls as just a game. It was about developing the character, encouraging independence and self-reliance.

I’ve written a little more about this project in a 2012 piece about my rather limited sports photography, Sports and Me, so I won’t repeat myself even more. I also wrote another post five years ago, Not Cricket.

Space Hijackers -an international band of anarchitects who battle to save our streets…

What got me thinking and writing about this again was a message from Suzy Gillett, who I met when she was making the short film Epiphany (and also, rather embarrasingly another post titled Epiphany, which should have been Epiphany 2.) She is now the producer for another film in the making, This is Not Cricket, on which director Jacopo de Bertoldi has been working on since meeting the Piazza Vittorio Cricket team in 2012. This is anarchist cricket of a very different stamp to that I photographed back in 2005. They hope to complete the 90 minute feature-length documentary by the end of 2015 and urgently need cash, and are seeking it from crowdfunding.

Here are the first two paragraphs of the Synopsis:

Immigrants in Italy are under siege from increasingly violent xenophobic demonstrations and punishing laws. European austerity measures hit society, fanning the fire of intolerance.

Two adolescents in Rome, Shince from India and Fernando from Italy set out to rebuild their cricket team with a singular political vision to combat fascism, to integrate young people, and to play cricket. Their team was the strongest under 18s club in Italy, until it was forced to disband by the same problems they are determined to overcome: religious and social discrimination.

The trailer, on the same page is also worth viewing. I’ve just made a small gesture of support at the ‘Daisy Cutter’ level which seemed appropriate for my level of cricketing prowess; so far the appeal for $15,000 for the next stage of the product has had just over a third pledged, and you can also follow the project on Facebook. Some of the ‘rewards’ offered for higher levels of contribution appeal rather less. What would I do with a cricket bat!





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