25 November 2020 16:33
Name: Tea. Age: Old. Possibly stale. And now gone, partly. Intriguing. Are we talking about tea the drink, or tea the meal, which means different things depending on factors such as class and geographical location, and which may or not involve tea the drink? Sort of neither.
We're really talking about tea the break. At work? No, in play. Specifically, in cricket. As in, England were bowled out for 106 before tea? That, for example. Because the game can go on a bit, there are a number of intervals, one of which is tea. And what does tea involve? Sandwiches, cakes, pies perhaps, crisps and tea, for 22 (plus). It's as much a part of the game as the reassuring thwack of willow on leather … Yeah, all right. So what's happened? It has been cancelled. Some village greens. The Sussex Cricket League, said to be the world's biggest recreational league, with 140 clubs and 335 teams, has voted to give teams the option of scrapping the spread and serving only hot and cold drinks during the afternoon break. Howzat? Well, actually, whyzat? Fewer volunteers, changing dietary requirements and the pandemic – during which amateur cricketers have had to bring their own packed teas if there has been any play at all – certainly haven't helped. Not having to provide tea might ease the burden on struggling clubs. What's the reaction been like? Mixed, as you can imagine. "Think it will encourage new players," tweeted Forest Row cricket club. "For too long cricket has [had] the stigma of cucumber sandwiches and a little bit of cricket." And what about … I don't know, Horsted Keynes, say? Interesting. Horsted Keynes cricket club – home of the HK Horsemen T20 team – are disappointed. "We will still be providing teas for our players at home games, and are happy to also provide for any opposition who are happy to reciprocate," it tweeted. "In fact, we are working on a new pavlova recipe." Mmmm, pavlova. Was it close? The vote, at the league's AGM? In favour of the motion (to remove the obligation to provide tea): 144. Against or abstained: 89. STOP THE COUNT! FAKE NEWS … Shut up. And it's optional – opt in for pavlova, out for cucumber sandwiches. It's also only for 2021. "It can be changed for the following season," the league chairman, Gary Stanley, explained to BBC Sport. Do say: "Scone. But not forgotten." Don't say: "Pavl-over."