North Staffordshire snapper Gareth Copley has won the prestigious Wisden-MCC Cricket Photograph of the Year for 2019 – even if he is happy to pass on most of the credit to Ben Stokes.
Gareth, who works for Getty Images, captured Stokes in imperious pose with arms aloft having just played one of the greatest cricket innings of all time, at Headingley against Australia in last summer’s Ashes series.
Stokes hit 135 not out as England chased a record 359 on a stunning afternoon – having been joined by last man Jack Leach when 73 were still required.
Gareth told Wisden: “I’ve been lucky to work alongside the England men’s team for 15 years, and 2019 was the biggest year I can remember. After photographing the World Cup final at Lord’s, I thought we would never see drama like it again. However, a few weeks later we had Ben Stokes’s heroics at Headingley, which was every bit as tense.
“The victory was maybe a bit sweeter as it was against the old enemy Australia. I probably did just as much shouting and nail biting as the crowd that day. When Ben hit the winning runs, I was lucky enough that he hit the ball towards me while it was my turn to sit at the Rugby Stand end.
“I just took the picture. Stokesy did all the hard work.”
Gareth, who moved to Clayton from Leeds, is often seen on the sidelines at Stoke City matches – and has taken on projects around the Potteries, including photographing bottle kilns to raise money for the Donna Louise Trust and then every oatcake shop in Staffordshire.
But cricket is a passion – and Wisden confirmed that there were more photographs submitted of BBC Sports Personality of the Year Stokes than any individual in the competition’s history.
Eight other images were shortlisted and Gareth received a cheque for £2,000 while two runners-up were awarded £1,000 and shortlisted entries won £250.
All the pictures will be displayed at Lord’s.