The great tea debate: let the poor tea lady sleep in! – Guide to cricket clubs
Jim Hindson pleads for the abolition of the halftime party
At Wollaton CC, we had chilli and shirted potatoes; at Cavaliers & Carrington CC, it was a spicy offer that would see us rushing for juice; when playing in the north of the county, homemade cakes would dominate. Cricket teas in Nottinghamshire and across the UK have been a staple of the game.
The only time I can remember missing the mid-game feast was during a Notts Colts game at Kiveton Park CC in the early 90s. The batting performance of our young team so enraged them. Notts coach and former drummer John Birch he banned us from entering the lodge and subjected us to brutal field drills instead of tea, while the opposition watched, mouths full, in amusement. Letters of complaint were written to the county club after the case – giving up tea was serious business.
Then came 2020, a pandemic and a brief hiatus in the game. When we finally returned to the Nottingham Premier League, one of the conditions to start the game was to bring your own tea. Naturally, food sharing in the clubhouse was not on the menu.
It was a small sacrifice but not insignificant. In my club, Caythorpe CC, we have the magnificent Jean Green (tirelessly supported by his daughter Debs), our lady of tea since time immemorial and a local legend both for her selfless dedication to the club and for her fine spreads. While those famous cheese and onion sandwiches and homemade macaroons were missed, oddly enough, meal times fell into place.
When the game started at 12:30 p.m. the bottom order of the batting side was retreating into their luggage and eating at lunchtime, wait for it. Between the sets, with less than five minutes of a drink and a snack, the two teams prepared for the second half of the game. The bowlers were enjoying a run, the skiers were hit by eager outfielders and the batsmen had their fill in the nets.
Both groups of players then entered the pitch without carrying the slow tea discomfort in their guts. Digested, prepared and ready to fight in the best possible conditions. It was right.
For those who bemoan another dagger in the social fabric of our game, support me. While the teas up and down the country and especially with Jean at the helm were lovely, the only socializing in my experience was uttering a ‘well done’ through gritted teeth while reluctantly passing milk to the guy who had crushed you around the park.
I would also bet that the idea of clubs raising money by making cricket teas is also wrong (try to feed 30 oiks on a strict budget!). So let me come up with a solution which is being considered by the Nottingham Premier League.
Rather than stopping the match halfway for a snacking party, how about laying down after the match, when all the battles have been fought and players and officials are in the last light. a day spent in the field?
It works in rugby – chili and a pint – so why doesn’t it work in cricket? Encourage more socializing after the game, using the time saved by not stopping a game halfway. You can also offer hospitality to spectators, maybe even raising essential funds for the club every weekend.
And maybe, just maybe, Jean will be able to lie down on a well deserved summer Saturday, with a nice evening to look forward to at the end of the day. Wouldn’t that be great.
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