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The Good old Cricket Tea

After an afternoon's hard slog, there's nothing better than to wander in from the field of play to a hearty tea.

Gone are the days, alas, when you would retire every week to your or your opponents home base to feast on chicken dippers, pizza, hot potatoes and continental style pasta salad.

The archetypal Nondies Tea is designed for portability - it cannot be guaranteed that there will be a pavilion to eat in (or even to get dressed in) so finger foods are a must. Sandwiches are the stock item - Cheese-and-something for the vegetarians, Ham-and-something for the normal people -with cake and crisps (don't forget the cheese and onion).

Drinks can be either very weak squash, if there are cups and clean water available, or all the beer and spirits blagged from a party the night before. In fact it's useful if you can get any parties that you throw or attend to coincide with 'your turn'.

If your turn comes around, as it inevitably does, here is a handy shopping guide to help you compose the 'Perfect Tea' at a sensible price.

  • Bread - 2 or 3 loaves. Look for the ones in Sainsbury's that are 'On-the-turn' with the reduced price stickers on them, but don't pick up any that have a strange whiff or green marks on them (re: Salim's kit bag)
  • Spread - don't bother with the low-fat polyunsaturated rubbish - it'll be spread pretty thin anyway, so you could use lard (don't let on to the veggies)
  • Fillings - Cheddar, grated, pads out the sandwiches nicely, although they do tend to explode on first bite - counteract this with lashings of Branston pickle. Wafer-thin meats can be easily purchased and give a wonderful 'hint-of-favour' feel although this can be spoiled if the sandwich requires binding using the Branston Method. Tuna should be drained and flaked and mixed with as much onion as possible. Ditto for Salmon, but use cucumber.
  • Cake - (Lots of) Battenburg, Jamaica Ginger cake, Madeira cake - if you're making your own try to make them as heavy as possible (see Tactical Teas, below)
  • Fruit - Only if there's a big box of bruised, single bananas or yellowing Golden Delicious on special offer
  • Extras - A quick scan of the freezer section to see if there are any cheap pizzas or chicken nibbles can pay dividends, although crisps are the best all round option

Tactical Teas

If it hasn't already been decided prior to the toss a well timed Tea can give your team a certain edge.

Example A:

  • Fielding first, the opposition run up a reasonable score (anything in excess of 100).
  • Declare that you want Tea between innings and bring out the Heavy Snap. Encourage the opposition to tuck in and fill their boots and then smile smugly as the fielding side proceeds to throw up all through your run-chase.
  • If there is no Heavy Snap available, or it's been snaffled by the Fat Boys on your team, try offering round the cheap French Lager. The fielders will be partially handicapped by having to rush to the boundary's edge to drain their sumps, thus opening gaps in the field.
Example B:
  • Batting first you've been bowled out for a low, but defendable score
  • Declare that Tea should be at a designated time and that the opposition should begin their innings and stop at that time, with the intention of carrying on afterwards.
  • Constantly ask the time of the scorer, making sure play is interrupted needlessly.
  • As the agreed time approaches, insist that the innings continue until a 'convenient' break (i.e. the fall of the next wicket)
  • When Tea is eventually taken get your team to eat only as much as you think they need - Make sure the Fat Boys are strictly policed, especially if you are to rely on their bowling or lightning-fast fielding (sic). Ensure that the opposition get the chance to 'Cake Out' and hurry them back into bat to nurse their stitches