Through The Lens: Nick Wood’s 2019 Season (Part Two)


Essex Cricket’s Club Photographer Nick Wood probably saw as much county cricket as anyone last year. He follows the team up and down the country, sitting in the stands capturing every moment. Last year was a special year for Essex, with Anthony McGrath’s side reclaiming the County Championship title, and Nick was there for it all. So with the 2020 season delayed, Nick thought it would be nice to open up his camera and show everyone some of his favourite photos from a wonderful campaign.

Through The Lens (Part Two):

Description: 17th June 2019 – Simon Harmer of Essex celebrates taking 12 wickets in the match during Essex vs Hampshire – County Championship match at The Cloudfm County Ground.

Simon Harmer… what’s not to love? A top player and top man. Simon is a photographer’s dream as he is so animated out on the field that you can easily capture a dozen or so frames of him just running up to bowl with his wide arm spread. Whenever a bowler takes five wickets I will try to run round to capture an image of them coming off which sounds easy but normally means leaving all your expensive kit the other side of the pitch, sprinting like an idiot around the edge of the field and then hoping they will look towards the camera whilst you are screaming like a banshee for their attention.

Fortunately for this picture, the sky was a rich blue, the upper stand was nice and full and Simon held the ball up whilst smiling into the camera – a perfect image for the marketing team and fans. The fact his haul came against Hampshire only made it sweeter considering the result at the beginning of the season. There are no better places to be than Chelmsford when the sun is out and lads are winning.

Description: 2nd July 2019 – Ravi Bopara of Essex changes his bat during Nottinghamshire vs Essex – County Championship match at Trent Bridge.

I am going to miss Ravi on so many levels so felt the need to include a frame of him doing one of the things he does best – swapping bats. Now I am not a player and never have been but even still I don’t understand why he needs to swap his bats so much. I have more snaps of Ravi swapping bats than all the other players combined. Ravi has so many bats it’s just not true – I take a fair number of shots in the players dressing room, either with mascots when they get to meet the players before the games or maybe for a kit launch promotional shot but on every occasion, I would find myself moving piles of Ravi’s bats.

I bet the dressing room will feel strange without him and the players will sense something is missing (it will be the huge pile of willow). Joking aside, Ravi was and is an absolutely brilliant person to be around, he was always amazing with me and I will especially miss him and Ryan arguing over cards on the team bus when I travel to matches. I for one can’t wait to see him return to Chelmsford that will be a special occasion.

Description: 15th July 2019 – Sir Alastair Cook and Matt Quinn of Essex descend the player’s stairs ready to take the field during Essex vs Warwickshire – County Championship match at The Cloudfm County Ground.

As a photographer, I am always trying to find the shots that make the fans feel closer to the action and gives them a different view of the game. Shooting from the bottom of the player’s steps is one such interesting angle and one that I think helps to set the scene really well for the action that is soon to happen.

As an Essex fan, it is always a great comfort to see Alastair coming down the stairs ready to take on the opposition, it gives the ground and fans a huge lift. I’m not sure I can say the same when Matt Quinn comes down to bat, the two of them together forming an interesting partnership but that’s what struck me on the day I took this image. In Quinny’s defence, I will never forget watching him bat at the Oval last year when he stood up against a torrid bowling assault against Surrey. He took a tremendous amount of punishment and kept getting up with a smile on his face – just brilliant and brave. Quinny is a great guy around the Club, always willing to help out on any commercial shoots that need to be done and always ready with a smile.

This image was taken the day after England defeated New Zealand in the world cup so seeing an Englishman and Kiwi take to the field together felt rather special so taking this image reminded me of a couple of great cricketing moments.

Description: 20th August 2019 – Darren Stevens leaves the field having been given out during Kent vs Essex – County Championship match at the St Lawrence Ground.

I can’t remember the number of times I have sat and watched Darren Stevens turn the knife on us over the years and yet it doesn’t make any sense to me. He doesn’t look the part to me and when I watch him in action I can’t see what it is that he does that is so hard to figure out yet time after time he shows up and delivers. The fact that he plays for Kent doesn’t help me to feel any sense of warmth towards him and the fact that all of the Kent media like to crow on about how brilliant he is really winds me up. So this picture is a real favourite of mine – it reminds me of a truly amazing game of cricket which left me feeling as though I had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. If you were ‘fortunate’ to watch the whole game then you saw a truly special game which felt like it could have gone either way.

‘Dazzler’ Stevens really turned it on. It felt as though the season might implode and yet somehow the lads dug in and ground out a superb victory. Sam Cook, Adam Wheater and Simon Harmer must have nerves of steel. Watching Stevens trudge off back to the Pavilion gave me a moment of hope in a game that was played at a blazing pace.

Shooting at The Spitfire ground as a member of the Essex media can be a lively job, this is one of the few grounds where you can expect to be on the receiving end of an interesting ‘jibe’ or at least one of the Kent fans to position themselves right in front of the camera, but I like that and nothing steps over the line. The Spitfire ground reminds me of shooting back in Chelmsford, there are loads of busy backgrounds with market stalls and odd buildings so more often than not I will shoot from high up in one of the home fans stands so I think a few choice words to the away media is well deserved.

Description: 17th September 2019 – Daniel Lawrence of Essex celebrates scoring a century of runs by leaping during Essex vs Surrey – County Championship match at The Cloudfm County Ground.

Every time one of the Essex lads looks likely to score a century at home you will see me dashing around the ground ready to go up the player’s stairs to the balcony for the best shooting location in the ground. I shoot this angle as much for the players themselves as their families who like to keep a record of these special moments. Getting to shoot from the balcony is a real privilege and one that I don’t take for granted. I don’t go up the steps too early (I have developed my own superstition of waiting until the batsman is on 92) and when I get up there I try to fit in around all the lads.

Even to this day, I get a bit nervous waiting for one of the lads to give me a bit of stick and to question why I am up there (normally Cooky) so I make a point at the beginning of the year to ask permission from the Captain and Head Coach. I also get a bit nervous to make sure that I get the frame, I am as excited as anyone else plus I know that the lads will immediately ask – did you get it? I am not sure I will ever live it down should I miss one of the lads century celebrations.

The century shot can be a little frustrating as often the player may only briefly look to the balcony or even worse you get a fielder’s legs in the background or an umpire which can ruin the shot. Some of the lads don’t go big for their celebrations so I am always hoping for a big reaction. Fortunately, Dan Lawrence on this day appeared to leap over the bowler to celebrate and it created a pretty cool looking image – I have to say over the past few years I have been up and down those stairs a lot – not that I am complaining, the lads are playing great and winning.

About Unshaken Photography:

Nick runs courses across the region for people with a range of ability, so book your place and get more from your cameras when taking photos. Locations for the courses include The Cloudfm County Ground in Chelmsford, Cambridge, Maidstone or St Albans.

Courses cover the basics for beginners, portraits, landscapes and even sport, so if you fancy improving your photography get in touch with Nick at [email protected], by phone on 01245 494258 or visit the website – click here.