Cricket teas aren't banned - but we have to move with the times
A vote to remove the need for cricket clubs to provide tea has caused a stir across Sussex. But Ian Guppy of Aldwick CC - one of the clubs backing the changes - explains no-one wants to ban them. It's simply about telling clubs they don't HAVE to provide tea. Here is how he explains the background...
So it's the end of the cricket tea as we know it..... or is it?
The immediate backlash at an agreement to "remove" the most quintessential part of a game of Good Old English Cricket hasn't gone down too well for many clubs after the Sussex Cricket League AGM.
Naturally the headlines talking of teas being scrapped will cause shockwaves but if you delve a little deeper not much may change at all. Clubs have not been banned from having teas, they've not been abolished at all - the wording simply states that the obligation to provide a tea is no more.
It's no longer mandatory to do so and this was voted on at the AGM by the clubs in the world's biggest recreational cricket league - so it was a move not taken lightly and done by "the powers that be" but actually by those participating including clubs.
These clubs ranged from Premier Division sides that had Jofra Archer playing for them only a few years ago all the way to village green sides that have 70-plus year olds opening with some of the youngest colts - and many voted for and against.
Teas have not been banned at all - but this move has given a little flexibility to the clubs that have been struggling to provide them in the past and the word obligation just takes that pressure of where needed.
With Covid issues being thrown at clubs too, it gives them a chance to simply focus on the cricket side of things - also allowing those clubs that still want to smash out a good tea and keep one of the most traditional parts of cricket alive.
Two years ago at Aldwick we were very close to folding our twos side due to lack of numbers and at times we had to beg, steal and borrow players to get games played - surely that's the one priority all sides should have. At times we had non cricketers playing just to avoid conceding. Our slip cordon's combined age was nearly 200 and we lost every game of the season except one.
Add to that trying to force one of the team to make a tea and it was not a pleasant season at all - and when you force someone to do something you don't always get that result you want. Trust me at Aldwick we know how to smash out a bad cricket tea - and that is no experience we'd want a visiting side to see.
We've also done the opposite and when love and care is put into it and the people making tea WANT to it's a different story - we've had pulled pork, freshly baked cakes, chilli dogs and more - great after a couple of hours in the middle.
With Covid hitting last season and the fact we couldn't provide any refreshments at all, many a player posed the question: do we need to do this every Saturday any more?
Dietary requirements have changed massively and it's always sad to put on a tea and see players not eating because of their diet, religion or intolerance to certain food groups. Having the ability to bring their own adds flexibility to help everyone.
As a club we've been hit with a serious financial crisis through Covid and without subsidising teas the club itself could see its coffers boosted by an extra £100-£120 a weekend, money that is vital for any cricket club.
It's a very good debate to have but one thing is absolutely clear - if your club wants to continue to provide tea with pride, please do. If for whatever reason your club has always struggled and will continue to struggle with aspects of the matchday - Aldwick CC being one on some occasions - this decision has given some flexibility to clubs which can take pressure off things. And in a Covid or non-Covid world, moving with the times might help some clubs prosper.
Some clubs may continue with a lavish spread. I know that if we have that perfect Sunday fixture, I'll be all over the slow cooker and cake baking . It's a perfect part of cricket tradition - but that tradition surely needs some flexibility to suit today's culture.
It's perhaps not as black and white as initially thought. See you in the middle in 2021!