An eye for cricket

Updated: Jun 10, 2019, 08:08 IST | Harit N Joshi

Although retired, renowned photographer Patrick Eagar carries his camera and lens to school cricket finals in England to view some outstanding talent like he did in 2012 when he spotted current West Indian batting star Shai Hope

An eye for cricket
Illustrious cricket photographer Patrick Eagar outside his London residence on Friday. Pic/Harit N Joshi

Harit N JoshiThe weather here forced the abandonment of Pakistan v Sri Lanka World Cup match on Friday. It has also left highly-acclaimed cricket photographer Patrick Eagar, 75, a bit disappointed. He was hoping to watch some cricket on his prized possession — the new Sky Sports network device.

"I never had this before," he says, pointing to a remote on the centre table when mid-day paid a visit to his home in Richmond, a quaint and affluent area in South London. Eagar retired as a freelance photographer after the India v England Test (his 300th) in 2011, but the veteran photographer still has an eye for the game.

School cricket, his thrill

Since giving up his jumbo camera lens, Eagar covers cricket finals at the school level every year. "I look out for natural talent. I love clicking pictures when the cricketer is young. I still remember clicking pictures of Sachin Tendulkar when he was just 17 at the Indian Gymkhana here," he recalls.

WI's Shai Hope who Patrick Eagar shot during a school competition
WI's Shai Hope who Patrick Eagar shot during a school competition

In his search for some naturally-talented cricketers, Eagar spotted current West Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Shai Hope when he had come to England on a scholarship for two years in 2012. Hope played for St Bede's school and took his team to two finals. "He was a class act. He had that natural flair and I was mighty impressed with his skills. And look, today he is with the West Indian team! He played well against Australia the other day," says Eagar, referring to Hope's four catches and 68 at Nottingham on June 6.

Age may have taken a bit of a toll on his memory, but his eyes are as sharp as his camera lens. He quickly glances to the ceiling-high bookshelf and shows me some of his finest photographs. From preserving his first photograph that he shot when he was just 13, to the number of books in which his photographs have appeared, Eagar has them all.

He points to the famous Vivian Richards pull shot that Kapil Dev managed to sensationally hold on to during the 1983 World Cup final at Lord's. "This is a good picture, but the essence and emotion is not captured," he says.

That great final in 1975

He remembers the first-ever World Cup final between Australia and West Indies in 1975 frame-by-frame: "It was such an exciting match. I have fond memories of that final." Eagar enjoyed shooting Garry Sobers the most. "There was something special about him… that natural flair. Although there were others as skilful and brilliant, I liked shooting Sobers the most," he says.

In this age of digital cameras, multiple frames and the liberty to delete images as well, Eagar delivered brilliant pictures in an age of film rolls. Most of his pictures captured the action or a poignant moment of a match. "It was all about anticipation. I had to concentrate for every ball. We could relax only between the balls and overs. It is important to watch every ball, otherwise you would miss the moment," he says. What saddens him is that there is less emphasis on action pictures these days.

"It could probably be because of what big newspaper organisations demand. In the earlier days, there was no grill on a batsman's helmet and we could see the face of the player. Now, with so much of protection for a batsman, we can't see the face unless they remove their helmet and raise their bat. That's why we may be seeing mostly celebratory pictures," he reasons.

With the World Cup fever slowly gripping England, will he make his way to a ground on some occasions? The answer is no. "Two hundred pounds for a ticket is quite a lot. Although I am a member at Lord's, I will have to shell out around 200 pounds for a match which is way too much," he concludes as I can't help looking at the Sky Sports network device on his living room table – it's his tool to the cricketing window. Great camera work which television coverage lends itself to, notwithstanding, to some cricket lovers, there is no substitute for a Patrick Eagar image.

Patrick Eagar's unforgettable World Cup moments

Roy Fredericks

1975
WI's Roy Fredericks falling on the stumps after hooking Australia's Dennis Lillee for a six during the World Cup final at Lord's: "It was an amazing moment in the game."

Alvin Kallicharran

1975
West Indies's Alvin Kallicharran  taking Dennis Lillee to the cleaners, smashing 35 runs (4,4,4,4,4,1,4,6,0,4) in a 10-ball over: "It wasn't much about the pictures here but all about the atmosphere. To destroy Lillee required guts," Eagar says.

Kepler Wessels

1992
The semis abruptly ending SA's World Cup campaign when Kepler Wessels's team were left to get 22 off one ball v England when play resumed after rain: "A foolish methodology to determine a revised target."

Clive Lloyd with Jagmohan Dalmiya

1996
India collapsing in dramatic fashion against SL in the semi-final and Indian fans rioting at the Eden Gardens. Match referee Clive Lloyd with Jagmohan Dalmiya awarded the match to SL.

Patrick Eagar's classics from our files...

England's Ian Botham makes his ground against India in World Cup 1983
England's Ian Botham makes his ground against India in World Cup 1983

Mohd Azharuddin (left) in 1985 and Australia's Rick McCosker in 1975
Mohd Azharuddin (left) in 1985 and Australia's Rick McCosker in 1975

Oz's Graham Yallop ducks a Colin Croft (West Indies) bouncer in 1978
Oz's Graham Yallop ducks a Colin Croft (West Indies) bouncer in 1978

Ian Botham (left) in full flow and Greg Chappell against WI in 1975-76
Ian Botham (left) in full flow and Greg Chappell against WI in 1975-76

Pakistan's star batsman Zaheer Abbas spotted in the stands in 1978-79
Pakistan's star batsman Zaheer Abbas spotted in the stands in 1978-79

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