by G.S. Rogers
So there’s more than one thing that makes cricket a crazy unique team sport, but its meal breaks are a stand out. Sure, you do see Tour de France riders chowing down on a muesli bar, and marathon runners trying to sneak in a banana on the go, but it’s an idiosyncrasy of cricket that play stops at a predetermined time so that all concerned can troop into the dining room and sit down to a 3-course meal, complete with a selection of cakes served off a trolley.
Or do they? What do cricketers do in the lunch break?
Our sources have filled us in. They said a definite NO to the cake trolley (there was some wistful sighing), and instead talked us through the phenomenon of Lunch. This is what happens:
- Players leave the field, wanting more than anything to get off their feet and just rest
- On a very hot day some players (bowlers are the most likely) might take a shower. Some will just splash water around but ALL will pretty much immediately take their shoes off. They will then troop off to the dining room. Surprisingly, except for the Sydney Cricket Ground and the hallowed Lords Cricket Ground in London, where shoes are mandatory, the socks-and-no-shoes get up is actually allowed.
- In the dining room, each team may acknowledge each other (ahem, tensions depending), but they will always sit separately, and there’ll be another table for the umpires.
- On the team tables will gather players and coach … and possibly the team manager, doctor, physio, media manager. Lunch is for all, and everyone has a place at the table.
- Now at Lords, the dining room is complete with waiters, and lunch is ordered off the menu. That’s the fanciest way it’s done. Most everywhere else, it’s a serve-yourself buffet, featuring meats and vegetables and salads and breads, complete with Halal and vegan and gluten-free options. You want it – you let them know and chances are you’ll get it.
- Even dessert, you ask? Alas, apparently not so much anymore. Lords (again) does offer a desserts menu, but most other grounds are trending away from offering sweet options, other than some yoghurt.
- So the teams sit, and they eat, and they chat. Sometimes strategy is discussed (I imagine all leaning in, the conversation taking a hushed tone) but more often than not it’s distracted banter, aimed at having a few laughs before the field beckons once more.
So that’s what lunch looks like for the only sport in the world that pauses for it. A 40-minute period of ritual and expediency and smelly socks and proteins and carbohydrates and fat chance of a lamington.