It certainly is the best seat in the house, but sitting close to the boundary of a cricket field does not necessarily ensure you would have a good time watching the match. Cricket is like a religion in India. An unusual game, that goes on all day even through lunch and tea. Naturally then, covering this game in India is like covering it nowhere else in the world.
At least four hours before a match, photographers start out for the stadium, winding through noisy, mile-long lines. The lines of spectators are so long that one wonders if the last man actually gets to see the full match.
Security is often difficult. Parking passes are virtually impossible to get. So there’s little else a photographer can do, but walk along crowded dusty paths carrying heavy equipment. Certainly not a good thing for the faint-hearted!
It was no different at the India-Australia one-day match in Vadodara. The intense bag-checking by the police at several places made getting into the stadium an adventure sport by itself. Undeterred, spectators thronged the stadium well before the game. A glimpse of the players during pre-match practice was all it took to drive them into a tizzy. The cheering in the stadium is so loud that all laws on noise levels seem to be breached. Only the law of the willow prevails.
Photographers too go into a tizz when players appear, albeit for a different reason. When players practice in front of photographers, a straight or cover drive or a throw from a fielder sends us scurrying for cover too. Lenses get hit, laptops take a rap. Recently a photographer got hit on his head by a jet-paced-ball from an Australian cricketer. He was lucky to come away with only minor injuries.