IT seems you can’t turn on the TV these days without coming across a cooking show.

My Kitchen Rules, Masterchef, Good Chef Bad Chef, Huey’s Kitchen, Ready Steady Cook and Iron Chef just to name a few.

With so much cooking on the TV, it got me thinking about the all-important cricket arvo tea, and what makes a good one.

And before you scoff at the light-hearted topic, there seems to be a common perception that – despite there being some exotic dishes served up every now and then – in general, the current state of arvo teas in Bendigo cricket could do with a bit of a pep-up.

Over the years, the stock standard cricket arvo tea hasn’t varied too much and there are several old-school favourites you can count on being served from club to club each Saturday.

For a start, you can bank on a fresh fruit platter containing watermelon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, kiwi fruit, oranges cut into quarters and perhaps a bit of cantelope or rockmelon being on the arvo tea table each week.

While a fruit platter is a staple item of any arvo tea, so too is the customary selection of sangers.

For me, you couldn’t go wrong with a tomato sanger (providing it hadn’t gone soggy) or the trusty ham and pickle sandwich – white bread and cut into triangles, of course. Fresh chicken sandwiches with lettuce were also a winner as well.

The selection of sangers would also include a guaranteed variety of egg sandwiches, but they never did much for me.

Which is why I’m glad I wasn’t playing for Cooma the day  - so the story goes - they played at an opposing Kybaram District Cricket Association club that shall remain nameless and were greeted with 11 plates of egg sangers and nothing else at arvo tea. 
Glad I wasn’t the one cleaning up after that arvo tea. Phew!!

As well as the weekly guarantees of sandwiches and a fruit platter, back at Stanhope, we could usually rely on a jam roll sponge, good old Aussie lamingtons, packet of Shapes (I’d eat any but Cheddar), sponge cake and Tim Tams being on the menu.

 And if we were really lucky and someone’s mum or wife was in a good mood, some freshly-made jam and cream scones, or on a really hot day, packet of Split ice-creams that were as keenly sought-after as a Wonka Golden Ticket, were also dished up.

But there certainly weren’t any home-made tandoori chicken pizzas that my brother-in-law served up at Barrabool Cricket Club recently, the Asian style cuisine that has been known to frequent Harry Trott Oval, or plate of Sushi that one of the BDCA’s hardest-hitting batsmen provided at Bell Oval one day.

As for consistency of afternoon tea, it’s hard to go past star batsman Rohan Larkin’s tenure at Stanhope.

He was as consistent at making runs as he was supplying a pack of Arnotts Tic Toc biscuits – you know, those bikkies that look like clocks – at afternoon tea every home game.

Maybe that was one of the secrets to his 1000-run season a dozen-or-so years ago.

With the Tic Toc biscuits, at least Rohan never ran the risk of leaving behind his plate at the cricket rooms – something I incurred the wrath of my mum for several times over the years and why, in the end, she’d send me off with a pack of Shapes each week, usually boring old Savoury.

So remember, if you’ve had a shocker out on the field or have battled badly for form over several weeks, you can still make a valuable contribution to your team with a show-stopping arvo tea item that may just keep your spot in the side.

I’d love to hear which cricket club has the best afternoon tea in the region, and some exotic foods that have been served up.

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