Stephen Brenkley: A storm in a sponsored cup... ECB stirs up controversy by selling off the tea break

 

Tea has always been archaic yet sacrosanct. As an institution it has embodied the entire ethos of a type of game that probably did not exist, except perhaps at Blandings: at 20 minutes in length, neither one thing nor the other.

But attempts suggesting that it had outlived its usefulness, if ever it had any, were rightly repelled. Until yesterday, however, the tea interval had never been seen as a commercial opportunity.

For the next three seasons in Test matches in England, it appears that it will be owned by the Harrogate-based company, Yorkshire Tea. Batsmen trying desperately to survive will be playing for the Yorkshire Tea Break, for which players will troop off at 3.40pm each day.

It is the first time in the long and honourable history of sports sponsorship that the rights to a period when the game is not being played have been sold. Woe betide anybody who forgets the name check. Tea belongs to one company and one company alone.

While both the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Harrogate-based beverage supplier are to be congratulated on their chutzpah, it begs the question of whatever next? Lunch at 40 minutes must be up for grabs shortly and the ECB's energetic commercial director, John Perera, may already be speaking to hamper suppliers or sandwich makers.

If the breaks between play can be sold, why not the breaks between Test match days? Perhaps bed companies could be invited to tender to sponsor the overnight period between close and start of play, or maybe the ECB's beer and cider partners could be enticed to lend their name to the all-night bender.

As Perera observed, cricket and tea go hand in hand, but no more than cricket and ale. The deal was launched with typical brio at Lord's by England's most recent Yorkshire captain, Michael Vaughan, though some of his predecessors – Lord Hawke, the Hon Stanley Jackson, even Sir Len Hutton – might have been turning, or indeed stirring, in their graves.

On the other hand, being Yorkshiremen, they might have spotted the potential ages ago. It is conclusive evidence that every bit of every game is now fair game. The Yorkshire Tea Break will occur in matches being sponsored by Investec featuring a team, England, which is at present in search of a new commercial backer.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence