Australian cricket legend Steve Waugh enjoyed his fair share of on-field success in India, but the 55-year-old former Test captain has shown he's a dab hand with more than just the bat.
Waugh was awarded the Wisden Photograph of 2020, adding his name to another of the famous cricket publication's many awards.
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It was on a three-week trek across India in January last year that Waugh captured the winning frame, a shot of children in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan playing cricket judged the best entry of the year.
The winning shot was one of more than 200 published by Waugh in his book The Spirit of Cricket — India, which he produced with the help of photographer Trent Parke.
Waugh described the town of Osian, where he captured the image, was one where the brutal conditions meant every child's love for the game almost a necessity.
“You need to appreciate and love the game to endure the climate and conditions, and to prevail in a sport that requires time and patience," he said.
"Many of the kids we came across in the local village had barely enough equipment to start a game.
“A battered stump and a perished rubber ball were good enough to get things started. Once the contest began, it didn’t matter about the quality of the gear or the harshness of the terrain: it was all about the contest.
"Attitude and intent were etched on the kids’ faces as they endeavoured to get one up on their mates and claim bragging rights for the day – exactly as kids do the world over when they come together to play sport.
“We arrived at 7.30am on the sand dunes of the Thar Desert on a chilly January morning to watch the local kids play a game of cricket. After some discussion and consultation, a suitable field was selected where the makeshift pitch was flat enough for a tennis ball to bounce sufficiently for a match to begin.
"As two games were in motion, the local camel tourist operators strolled by to frame the shot perfectly. It was a unique morning – and one that encapsulated the spirit of cricket in India.”
Steve Waugh beats out Aussie photographer for Wisden award
More than 300 entries were submitted for the award, with Waugh edging out fellow Australian snapper Darrion Traynor, who submitted his frame of Sydney Sixers star Jordan Silk taking a catch at full extension in mid-air.
The other runner-up image was submitted by UK-based photographer Jed Leicester, who captured many of the first park and village cricket games as England emerged from the country's first coronavirus lockdown.
The most striking image of his series came from a small club on the coast near North Devon, showing a spectator perched on a mound of rocks high above the ground where the game was being played below.
Wisden Cricketer's Almanack editor Lawrence Booth said the judging panel had hardly imagined Waugh would manage to continue to make contributions to the storied cricketing publication so long after his retirement from the game.
“It was lovely to see how the world of cricket photography responded to the different challenges posed by the events of last year – and heartening that so many entered the competition," Booth said.
"Many congratulations to Steve Waugh, just when we probably imagined he wouldn’t be rewriting any more pages of Wisden.”
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