‘The per­fect shot is like hit­ting a pure cover drive’

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place to take pic­tures,” he says. “You go walk­ing at dawn in Lon­don and you might see a cou­ple of jog­gers. In Mum­bai I found cricket matches be­ing played on every street, won­der­ful old trains, smil­ing faces… just an over­whelm­ing rich­ness and di­ver­sity.”

Comp­ton, who re­tired from all forms of cricket ear­lier this month, still counts that tour of In­dia, where Eng­land ended a 27-year wait for a Test se­ries vic­tory, as his big­gest ca­reer high­light. But for him the team’s on-field ex­ploits were only half of the story – the chance to dis­cover the coun­try, and its peo­ple, pro­vided equally vivid mem­o­ries. Many of the pic­tures Comp­ton took on that tour will form part of Comp­ton’s first pho­to­graphic ex­hi­bi­tion, Be­yond the Boundary, which opens at the Mad­dox Gallery in Lon­don on Wednes­day.

It’s clear to see that Comp­ton’s no duf­fer be­hind the lens. Born and raised in Dur­ban, South Africa, the grand­son of the leg­endary De­nis Comp­ton de­scribes pho­tog­ra­phy as a life­long pas­sion. “My dad pre­sented wildlife pro­grammes on TV and we spent lots of time ex­plor­ing game re­serves in South Africa and Mozam­bique,” he says. “He al­ways had a cam­era in his hand and pos­sessed a great eye for a shot, but also an in­nate abil­ity to con­nect with pp peo­ple. I’d like to think I’ve learnt a few things from him.”

It’s a pas­sion ssion he’s never tried to hide – even n as a teenage rookie in the Mid­dle­sex esex dress­ing room. He ex­plains: ns: “I re­mem­ber in one of my first games for Mid­dle­sex at Lord’s I was 12th man. It’s a role where you’re sup­posed to keep quiet and fetch drinks ks for the se­nior play­ers. But ut Ed Joyce, my team-mate, e, was ap­proach­ing ng his maiden 100. So I got my cam­era out wait­ing for the mo­ment. Sud­denly Ed starts call­ing for a drink and I’m nowhere to be seen. ‘Where’s the 12th man?’ ev­ery­one’s shout­ing. ‘He’s tak­ing bloody pho­tos! What’s this kid about?!’” Af­ter more than a decade rack­ing up runs in county y cricket, Comp­ton fi­nally broke into the Eng­land Test side in 2012 with a call-up to that In­dia tour. “The op­por­tu­nity to play cricket fo for Eng­land was fan­tas­tic, but the chance to take pho­tographs in such a com­pelling d desti­na­tion gave me just as much mu ex­cite­ment,” he says. “I’ve a al­ways found trav­el­ling to de de­vel­op­ing coun­tries more re­ward­ing. The smiles, the faces fa and the peo­ple ar are just more in­tere in­ter­est­ing, the colours you g get are far richer, and I’ve al­ways found it ea eas­ier to con­nect wit with peo­ple. I wo wouldn’t dream of tak­ing my cam­era out in some­where like Sloane Square – how bor­ing.”

Cricket has pro­vided am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for pho­to­graphic as­sign­ments, and he’s also vis­ited Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Eng­land duty. He says: “It’s healthy to get out of the five-star ho­tel and ac­tu­ally see what makes the coun­try tick. There’s a crazy con­trast be­tween the world of highly or­gan­ised over­seas cricket tours and the free­dom of walk­ing the streets with just your cam­era.”

In­evitably, he’ll join in a game of street cricket given the chance. “On that walk around Mum­bai I was try­ing to stay un­der cover, but hav­ing scored the win­ning runs the day be­fore it didn’t last very long – so I’d join in and bat for a few balls, try to whack a cou­ple, and then move on to the next game.”

Comp­ton draws com­par­isons be­tween suc­ceed­ing with a bat in hand and with a cam­era. “A lot of it is about in­stinct – when you see your mo­ment you’ve got to just re­act. That per­fect shot is like hit­ting a pure cover drive – you can’t re­ally prac­tise, you need to have an eye for it.”

So where’s next? “I want to keep tak­ing pho­tos but also help cre­ate aware­ness for wildlife con­ser­va­tion and get in­volved in other so­cial projects,” he says. “Wher­ever I go I’ll just try to show the coun­try in its best light, its essence, the warmth of the per­son­al­i­ties… how it re­ally is.”

In­ter­view by Oliver Smith

Nick Comp­ton: Be­yond the Boundary runs from Nov 7-14 at Mad­dox Gallery, 9 Mad­dox Street, May­fair, Lon­don W1S 2QE (mad­dox­gallery.com)

Im­ages shot by Nick Comp­ton while on Eng­land duty across Asia

Eng­land bats­man Nick Comp­ton

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