Catch of the day

Au­gust 2005 Trent Bridge Nikon D2x

NPhoto - - Sneak Peek At Our Summer Issue - Keith Wil­son

When Eng­land and Aus­tralia met in the Fourth Test of the 2005 Ashes se­ries, the teams were tied at one test each. Eng­land hadn’t won the Ashes since the 1986-1987 se­ries in Aus­tralia, and had en­dured many de­feats since. But in 2005 things were dif­fer­ent. By the morn­ing of the third day’s play at Trent Bridge, Aus­tralia were on the back foot.

“It was a Satur­day morn­ing and I had spent the first part of the Test work­ing at ground level,” re­calls Patrick Ea­gar. “I like mov­ing around, I hate be­ing in the same place two days run­ning. The Aus­tralian in­nings was half over, but Gilchrist was still there. My in­ter­pre­ta­tion was that Aus­tralia were in trou­ble, so we were not look­ing for a glam­orous batting pic­ture, but shots of Aus­tralians be­ing out!”

Ea­gar and David Ash­down of The In­de­pen­dent were work­ing side by side when the Aus­tralian wick­et­keeper Adam Gilchrist faced the bowl­ing of Eng­land’s Andrew Flintoff. “I re­mem­ber turn­ing to David Ash­down, and I said, ‘It’s been a long time since we had a de­cent slip catch.’”

These words proved to be prophetic. Field­ing at sec­ond slip was Andrew Strauss. Flintoff ran in to bowl, Gilchrist crouched over his bat, and the two pho­tog­ra­phers peered through their viewfinders, their fin­gers poised over the shut­ter but­tons. When Gilchrist edged the 90mph ball, Ea­gar pressed: “It wasn’t a sin­gle shot, I ad­mit that, but nearly ev­ery one in the se­quence was quite a nice pic­ture. I prob­a­bly pressed the shut­ter as soon as I re­alised he had edged it. In the first frame Strauss is al­most div­ing out of the pic­ture, so I was pan­ning as well to keep him in.”

Ea­gar says choos­ing the right po­si­tion and lens were as crit­i­cal as tim­ing in get­ting this shot. “I used the Nikon D2x and 200-400mm f/4. I chose 200mm be­cause I was wor­ried about people leav­ing the frame. Yes, there is a bit of luck, but you’re talk­ing an­tic­i­pa­tion nine times out of ten. You’ve got to be in the right place, which is part luck, part ex­pe­ri­ence and part an­tic­i­pa­tion.”

The re­ac­tion

As Gilchrist walked back to the pavil­ion, Ea­gar and Ash­down checked their cam­era dis­plays. “We both got the pic­ture. It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary catch.” Be­cause Ash­down was a staff pho­tog­ra­pher, Ea­gar had the ad­van­tage as a free­lance in get­ting his im­age widely cir­cu­lated. “I sent it out to all the news­pa­pers and they all used it, two or three of them big on the back page.”

Eng­land won the match and Ea­gar made three 20x16-in prints for Andrew Strauss to sign. “I got him to sign one for me, he kept one, and I think the other one is still here at home. In terms of the num­ber of re­pro­duc­tions it is my best­selling pho­to­graph.”

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