Cricket teas - a tradition Pic Alamy

Save Our Cricket Teas from being hit for six - Jim Parker

Jim Parker

Cricket without teas is like jam without the cream, fish without the chips and Ant without Dec.

But the threat to what is a quintessential way of English life is looming large. Cucumber sandwiches and a cup of tea are a tradition stretching back decades, if not centuries – ok the cucumber sarnies may have been replaced by a pizza and pasties, but the tradition lives on and is a huge part of simply socialising in true English style.

But the pandemic and Covid has taken its toll. Games between clubs were few and far between due to restrictions, changing rooms and clubhouses stay closed and mixing with the other players was a definite no-no.  We were all reduced to a cool bag and flask at the back of the car

It was hoped – especially by old farts who have been playing the game for far too long like me – that the status quo would be resumed after the Covid collar was lifted.

But clubs in the Devon Cricket League were given the option of supplying a tea or not and many are choosing not!

Volunteers are always an issue and I suspect some clubs struggling to find helpers have seized on the opportunity to ditch them once and for all.

Some clubs are still providing teas but the saddest thing is visiting clubs aren’t obliged to have them and would rather opt for their cool bags.

Henry Blofeld Pic Wikimedia Commons
Henry Blofeld Pic Wikimedia Commons

Chairman Nick Rogers says the League is there to run cricket for the clubs and they decide on issues like this.

Nick says: “We leave it down to the clubs to decide what they want to do. The clubs run the league and we manage their wishes

“They wanted maximum flexibility. Some clubs are doing teas. Some clubs are not doing teas. Some clubs are no taking teas when they are offered.

“Some clubs are also no providing teas for the umpires and scorers which hasn’t gone down too well. It is part of their day out,.”

Nick has been playing cricket for as long as I have and has devoted his life to Hatherleigh Cricket Club who still provide some of the best teas in  the land (as well as Barton’s of course) and whose tea volunteers receive a standing ovation as a thank you from the players at every game.

He says: “We are traditionalists. I think teas are part and parcel of the game of cricket. We are still doing them at Hatherleigh. The players want them and our volunteers are prepared to do them.

“Cricket is a recreational sport and part of that is socialising with the opposition.”

Nick hits the nail on the head there. With drink-driving laws, the days of having a couple of beers with your opponents after the game are quite rightly long gone. Now it’s a coke or a quick half and home. Tea time is the only time to have a natter.

I appreciate there are far more important things in life at the moment than cricket and teas. But a tradition, a way of life to escape all those other stressful challenges we all face these days is quickly being literally hit for six.

I am going to start a little Save Our Cricket Teas campaign and petition calling on leagues to officially urge clubs to provide teas. You can sign up here….

One last word from a cricketing legend. Henry Blofeld, nicknamed Blowers by Brian Johnston, is an English retired sports journalist, broadcaster and amateur ornithologist best known as a cricket commentator for Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.

He says: “It is absurd and ridiculous that Covid is being used as an excuse to rob village and club games of those incomparable cricket teas. My commentating colleague, Brian Johnston, who championed chocolate cakes on Test Match Special, will be jumping around in his grave along the coast at Swanage. Scones, strawberry jam, cucumber sandwiches, sponge cakes and the good old cuppa are as much a part cricket as the wicket keeper, silly mid off and the Googly.”

Hear, hear Henry!