Cricket enthusiasts heading to the ICC Fan Park in Victoria Square this weekend can expect to bowled over as their favourite players are turned into art to celebrate the ICC Champions Trophy.
More than 8,000 fans are expected to descend on Victoria Square this weekend as the ICC’s first Official Fan Park opens in Birmingham
Over the last month, Birmingham-based artist John McCrea – an illustrator for Marvel and DC comics – has switched the focus of his work from the likes of Spiderman and Superman to Joe Root and Ben Stokes, as well as many more of the world’s top cricketers.
Commissioned by the ICC, McCrea will also have his artwork displayed in Cardiff and London – the other locations for the ICC Champions Trophy – throughout the tournament, with further drawings being added as the competition progresses.
More than 8,000 fans are expected to descend on Victoria Square this weekend as the ICC’s first Official Fan Park opens in Birmingham, displaying the cricket action live on big screens in the city centre.
And with favourites England already off to a winning start – defeating Bangladesh by eight wickets on Thursday largely thanks to a Root century – McCrea is keen to see further heroics on display as the tournament heats up.
“Drawing heroes is second nature to me, and these guys, being the top cricketers in the world, are heroes in their own way,” he said.
“It was a very fun job to do, getting an idea of the heroic nature of the game and the rivalries between the countries – it’s just like a good superhero comic with lots of battles and big drama.
“I’m used to drawing rivalries between superheroes, and there are so many rivalries between the teams – England and Australia, India and Pakistan – that it’s a natural progression for me.
“These guys are fighting it out on the pitch against each other, although hopefully not too many punches are thrown.
“Joe Root is a great batsman, so when I was bringing him to life on the page, I tried to compare him to a superhero and the one that sprung to mind for me was Thor, because he swings a big hammer, while Root swings his bat!
“He’s got that big, impressive quality that Thor has, so I went for it. I tried to compare each player to a superhero that would sum them up.
“Ben Stokes is an all-round player and the big all-round guy within the superhero comics is Batman. He’s got no actual superpowers, but he can do everything and beat everyone.”
— Edgbaston (@edgbaston) June 4, 2017
As well as McCrea’s mural, visitors to the Fan Park can also expect to enjoy a whole host of fun activities centred around the sport, in addition to live entertainment on stage.
And with thousands expected to fill the city centre for India’s game against Pakistan on Sunday, the hope is that this year’s ICC Fan Park will be the first of many to come.
“We’re really excited about what is going to be happening not only at Edgbaston, but in the heart of the city at the fan park,” said Neil Snowball, chief executive of Warwickshire CCC.
“We’re really honoured to have the first fan park here. It’s the first time the ICC have done this in England and Wales.
We’ve got a fantastic few years ahead of cricket at Edgbaston and in Birmingham, with the India Test match next year, and the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes in 2019Neil Snowball
“It’s great that it’s going to be here in Birmingham, with the view very much looking ahead to the Cricket World Cup in 2019.
“India versus Pakistan on Sunday is just going to be off the chart, there is a lot of excitement about that and we had the teams in training today.
“They love coming to Edgbaston, and we’re looking forward to a great game. We estimate there will be around 8,000 people in Victoria Square and the surrounding area.
“We’ve got a fantastic few years ahead of cricket at Edgbaston and in Birmingham, with the India Test match next year, and the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes in 2019.”