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My Favourite Photo: Fred’s unlucky number seven

Flintoff (Notorious declarations)
by Philip Brown 2 minute read

Cricket photographer Philip Brown nominates the picture depicting a disappointed Andrew Flintoff during the Adelaide Test of the 2006/07 Ashes series as his favourite, and explains why the England all-rounder was like a magnet to the lens.

I can’t usually remember what I did yesterday, let alone a match 10-and-a-half years ago, but I remember this. It was a particularly pivotal day in the 2006/07 Ashes. It was the second match of the series, at Adelaide, and going into the last day it was looking very much like a draw, but Shane Warne came on and bowled Kevin Pietersen round his legs, and all of a sudden Australia had to chase 160-odd in the final session.

In this picture Andrew Flintoff was bowling, Michael Clarke had hit it towards the boundary, and KP chased it down so it was only three. But then he sent in this wild throw – there was never a chance of a run-out – that hit the stumps and went to the boundary, so it was seven.

So this photo shows Flintoff ’s reaction as a ball goes for seven runs off his bowling.

Flintoff put his hand on his head and swivelled, so I probably got about five pictures of that moment, and in only one does it look like he’s crying, which is amazing since there’s probably only about a two-hundredth of a second between them. There’s the old saying of ‘the camera never lies’ but it kind of did in this case. The other fortunate thing is there’s a St. George’s Cross positioned perfectly behind him.

Those were the days when newspapers would still use pictures from freelancers and weren’t constrained by budgets. It was on the front page of the Telegraph, and was also a huge picture in the Guardian. Bizarrely the Mirror used the same picture three times in the same issue. I share a birthday with Andrew so I know it was his birthday the next day, and it was probably not that nice for him to see, if he did see the papers back home.

Flintoff was like a magnet to the lens. When he was playing I’d find myself looking at him. Even as he walked back to his mark I’d try and get the perfect picture of him tossing the ball up. I’d change my style of photography to be looking at him more than I would normally.

First published in June 2017.

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