Ashes Diary: Day 11 – One Down, Four to Go

Contrary to the expectations of most coming in to the Ashes, England did a number on the Aussies by winning the Test in 4 days. That means I don’t get a free lunch of the fifth day but that is not all bad.

57 day trip, I’m already 12 days in, and 20% of the cricketing action done as well. This cricket malarkey moves pretty fast, doesn’t it?

Once a Test match gets going, it is actually a blur. The day before the Test you are busy attending the press conferences, transcribing, writing the preview. The days of the Test you slip in to a bit of a routine. Wake up around 7.30, get to the ground between 9 and 10 AM, lunch at 1, Tea break at 3.40, post-day pressers, feature of the day, pitch some stories to other outlets and constantly refresh your email to see if somebody said yes, and have a drink or three around 9-10 PM and hit the sack around 1 AM and do it all over again the next day.

When it comes to writing the reports/features, it makes for an interesting observation in the press box. There are some that write feature columns, some that do match reports, some that do agency releases etc. People are a lot more relaxed in the first two sessions of the day, taking notes either on computer or in their notebook. Some folks use multi-colored pens recording diligently the scores, the dismissals etc. Some may have thoughts about a particular player for that day and they will spend quite a bit of time following that player, right from warm up in the morning and the all the way through the day with their binoculars.

Around the start of third session of the day is when the chatter of people typing on their keyboards goes up. The banter and chitchats come down to a minimum as all the scribes focus on their deadlines and their storylines. As the day ends, most of the journos make a beeline to the area where the press conferences are held, and after those are over, rush back to their seats to transcribe them to plug it in to their storylines.

During ICC events, they have begun to provide the audio as well as the transcripts within 15 minutes of the end of the presser on their site. That is not the case during bilateral series. Usually, one or two journos take the responsibility of transcribing, and email the copy to rest of the folks in the pressbox. If the press conferences went on for long, they split up the task, and it’s becomes a group project.

As for me, I have to send in the copy by 10 PM IST, which means, I have to have the feature done almost an hour before the close of play. So I try to identify the early story lines that will withstand whatever happens towards the end of the day and get done with my notes taking by middle of the second session. Once the plot line becomes clear in my head, it takes anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes to write out the 600-800 words features.

I had booked the airbnb place in Cardiff for 5 nights but since the Test ended early and my ride back to London (Jarrod) was leaving within a few hours of the Test ending, I just gave up the place and rode back to London. About 3.5 hours and a 20 minute ride on the train, I was in bed by 12.45 AM.

By the way, the crowd at Cardiff was in fever pitch as the inevitable end to the Test rolled around quickly. As the 9th wicket fell, I ventured out of the pressbox to soak up a bit of the atmosphere. The first delivery I captured on my phone ended up being the last delivery of the match.

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