Digging through the archive : Shooting from the scoreboard at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium

This post was originally posted on my column over on Island Cricket

Shooting from the Pallekelle Scoreboard

If there is one thing I dislike about covering cricket, it’s the stationary nature of the assignment. Occasionally, photographers do move around, but if you work for a newswire service, as I do, you’re generally stuck at your makeshift desk shooting, editing and uploading your shots.

During the ICC World Twenty20 2012 Super Eight match between the West Indies and New Zealand in Pallekelle, I chose to divert from the norm, and head elsewhere for a change. With the sun setting behind the picturesque Hunnasgiriya mountain range, I decided to venture up the scoreboard for a wide-angle shot of the ground and the sunset.

Scoreboard attendant looks out of the scoreboard

After opening the front door to the scoreboard, you’re confronted by a narrow set of stairs. As I head up, I come across large narrow rooms. On each floor are scoreboard attendants manually inserting numbers, names and moving a big wheel with numbers on it.

I would compare a manual scoreboard to an office building. Instead of the accounts department on the third floor, you have the ‘extras and bowling figures’ department. On the fourth, fifth and sixth floors are the attendants in charge of the batsmen’s names, and up at the very top is the total score.

Once I had taken the sunset shot that I was after, I hung around for a little while longer to take photos of the young chaps hard at work. The oversized signs, numbers and the ingenious mechanics of it all were intriguing.

Utilising a PA system inside the scoreboard, the attendants follow the instructions of the scorekeeper in a meticulous manner. Each attendant is in charge of a section of the board — overs, players’ names, runs, fall of wicket ect. This army of local lads from Kandy were at first shocked to see a photographer inside the scoreboard taking photos of them, and not of the match. They wanted to take a few shots with my camera. In return, I got to be a scoreboard attendant rotating the big wheel.

Scoreboard attendant pushes the scoring wheel

When you consider the manpower required for the whole operation, you begin to understand why many traditional scoreboards around the world have been demolished. I would imagine that the accounts department would deem it not so cost-effective. In an age of spider cams, hawk-eye and mammoth electronic scoreboards, it’s nice to see all the Sri Lankan Test venues still using the humble, yet iconic manually-operated scoreboards.

Two scoreboard attendants look out of the scoreboard

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