Howzat for great sports work experience?

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Students Stephen Killen, Josh Brain, Liam Jones and Sam Bellingham meet Sir Ian Botham at Lord’s. Pic © JMU Journalism

Students had a unique behind-the-scenes look at one of sport’s most iconic venues, as well as having the opportunity to meet a true cricketing legend, when they visited Lord’s during a Test Match this summer.

The trip to the home of cricket, set up by JMU Journalism lecturer and former Sky Sports correspondent, Tim Abraham, offered them a fascinating insight into the game as they attended the England v India Test in London in August.

The quartet of Sam Bellingham, Stephen Killen, Liam Jones and Josh Brain, had access to the final practice session, plus press conferences with the two captains, followed by attending the opening day’s play in the press box.

Not only that, they even got to speak with one of the giants of the game, as Sir Ian Botham took time out to chat with the students, while fellow former England skipper, Nasser Hussain, also shared his thoughts on the finer points of the India series, and working as a broadcaster.

The England and Wales Cricket Board kindly agreed to provide full accreditation, including seats in the glamorous and futuristic Lord’s media centre, known as ‘the Gherkin’.

Unfortunately, nobody could control the weather, and persistent rain washed out the first day’s play, but that did not spoil what proved to be a memorable occasion for all concerned.

Reflecting on the return to his former stomping ground, lecturer Tim said: “Even at Sky, when I worked at Lord’s over so many years, I never lost the feeling of being awestruck. Long days of live reporting and filming were always so hectic, but I never lost sense of the magic of the place and always took time to take it all in.

Lord’s cricket ground ahead of the 2018 England v India Test Match. Pic © JMU Journalism

“The beauty of cricket is that the media are allowed full access to the teams’ practice, whereas say in football and rugby at the highest level, there is a very limited opportunity to watch and, crucially for the broadcasters, film. Assessing body language, looking at tactics can all provide sports reporting clues.

“Given our access, we were able to get ‘up close and personal’ to the net practice, taking in just how quick the bowlers are, and how hard the batsmen hit the ball. During England nets we caught up with Danny Reuben, the head of Team Communications, about his role and considerations, as the first point of contact between players and the media.

“On day two of the trip, it soon became clear that there would not be much action – if any at all – to report on. It was no great surprise when play was abandoned for the day, but given what we were able to see and experience, this was a valuable insight into professional journalistic life, and inspirational I’m sure.”

YouTube: Lord’s Cricket Ground