There must be a reason for this. Because it couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Let’s be clear, cricket over-rides the rules of life. Nothing, but nothing, gets in the way of tea.
It’s day 4 of a rain-affected
heading-to-dead-rubber LV division two game between Lancashire and Essex.
No play has been possible due to Siberian gale force winds and torrential rain since yesterday lunchtime.
The elements relented sufficient for the umpires to call ‘play’ at 2.30.
Essex, who have both the credentials and the ambition to win the division, sportingly declare at 203 for 3 leaving the hosts 47 overs to get 253.
Lancashire registered their thanks for this generosity by immediately losing both openers, before Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown take the attack to former Lancastrian Sajid Mahmood, Graham Napier and young Reece Topley.
Brown announced his attentions by slogging Napier over extra cover for the ball to bounce millimetres inside the rope at the furthest part of the ground.
Then Prince brought the 50 up with a thick edge that third slip would have shallowed. If there’d been one.
I’ve always said that county cricket is anything but dull. As with observing the mating rituals of giant pandas, if you wait long enough, eventually you’ll see a good match.
And here was a case in point.
A game was threatening to break out.
Of course, the umpires had done everything in their powers to prevent it.
When I arrive at 2.40, no play is in progress.
It isn’t raining; indeed there are even a couple of inches of blue sky visible and the lights were on.
A steward tells me that the ruling is — and I’m not sure if I’ve got this entirely right — that the lights provide artificial light. Yes, I’m okay with that so far; that’s what lights are for, aren’t they? They should not replace the natural light, he says, and if the natural light declines to such a level that play would be impossible were the lights to be turned off… then play must be suspended.
“A big black cloud came over,” the steward tells me, “and so they went off.”
Thankfully though, by the time I discovere that the members’ refreshments outlet in the Point stand has just closed, play is set to resume and only one over has been lost.
After 14 overs, Prince and Brown have reduced the deficit to under 200, at an unprecedented scoring rate of four an over.
And then the umpires take them off for tea.
They’ve had the best part of two bloody days to drink tea and eat cucumber sandwiches and fruit cake, for goodness sake!
How much sustenance does a cricketer require after 14 overs? I mean, they’re not even bloody athletes. The most physically demanding thing that most of them done is to clap, and that, mainly to keep warm.
But I think I know the answer to this.
Tea is not for the benefit of the players. Or even the umpires.
Inside the only bar in the ground that’s open, I find all 32 fellow spectators huddled together for warmth.
Tea, I reflect, must be for their benefit.