Cricket teas staying on the table for 2021 and beyond


Picture STEVE BIRLEY - Credit: Archant

Butter the bread, slice the chocolate cake and put the kettle on – cricket teas are staying on the table for clubs in the Tolchards Devon Cricket League.

Clubs were told not to provide teas for players and officials during the mini-season played out for eight weeks from late July onwards due to Coronavirus fears.

A small group of clubs got together to propose ditching tea completely during the mid-innings break as last season’s experience proved to them it was no longer needed.

Three proposals to either scrap or modify the traditional mid-match buffet were considered by Friday night’s on-line annual general meeting of the league.

All three proposals – no tea at all, and two more that required clubs to agree on whether to provide tea – gained a simple majority. In fact a complete end to providing tea went 27-26 in favour.

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As the league has a two-thirds majority rule for substantive changes, none of the winning votes was sufficient to change the current tea rule that the home team has to lay on a spread and can charge the visiting team £33 to sit down for it.

As just six more votes would have spelled the end of the traditional cricket tea in Devon, supporters of the change are likely to bring the proposal back sooner rather than later.

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North Devon CC chairman Mark Ansell said if the proposal does get a second lease of life, the club would vote against it – again.

“We voted to retain teas in the established, traditional format,” said Ansel.

“We think tea is an important part of the Saturday cricket experience; a time for a proper chat and to relax with your team mates, including your scorer.

“Tea is an important opportunity to thank, acknowledge and spend time with your scorer and to get a feel for the culture and delights of other clubs.”

Ansell said he understood not all clubs could find ‘willing’ volunteers to prepare tea. He added: “But as a club we would much prefer to pay someone to provide teas than not to provide them at all.

“I think it would be a real loss if they stopped in the league, so hopefully they won’t.”

Alex Hannam, the Bideford captain, said Bideford voted for one of the options to skip tea rather than ending the practice completely.

“We voted as a club in favour of having the option to skip teas only as it could have been easier for some clubs,” said Hannam.

“I think everyone is glad that they will be staying for now though.

“Teas are a big part of club cricket that I don’t think anyone would want taken away.”

Staging the meeting online and asking for digital votes in advance paved the way for the shortest annual get together anyone could remember. It was all over inside 37 minutes, the first five of which were spent sorting out technical problems with the Zoom link between clubs and league officials.

There were far fewer proposals to change league rules and playing regulations than usual, which also kept proceedings to a minimum. As no divisional sub-committee meetings were held after the season ended there were hardly any proposed changes from clubs.

Most of the proposals were tidying-up exercises relating to the rulebook rather than anything else.

Devon League officials salvaged some cricket from the wreckage of the Coronavirus pandemic towards the end of the summer by breaking the competition down into 25 mini-divisions of four teams playing each other home and away to qualify for tiered play-off semi-finals and finals.

The cut-down format dramatically reduced travelling and Plymouth CS&R liked it so much they proposed extending it to the 2021 season. When the votes were counted it was 30 in favour and 30 against. Ten more votes would have seen the measure introduced.

A proposal to reduce the time allowed for tea to 20 minutes also failed.

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