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While you’re faced with a dubious marmite and cucumber concoction which looks more like an oil slick than a tasty snack, the world’s top players are tucking into the sort of spread which would have top food critics asking miss for more
This article first appeared in The Cricketer's Club Cricket Guide - you can read the guide in full HERE!
While you’re faced with a dubious marmite and cucumber concoction which looks more like an oil slick than a tasty snack, the world’s top players are tucking into the sort of spread which would have top food critics asking miss for more.
Take Lord’s, for example.
The home of cricket has made a habit of sharing its players’ dining-room menus on social media for all to see, and salivate over, in recent years. And it makes for quite some reading.
Three-course meals, freshly made and featuring high-quality ingredients, certainly beat a sorry-looking loaf of ham-salad sandwiches.
“Every team has a set of nutritional and dietary guidelines which they send to every ground before the start of every season,” Andrew Whillas, the players’ dining room manager, says.
“There’s a format for what they require as snacks, lunch, afternoon tea and post-match. We build our menus around their requirements.
“On a typical matchday at Lord’s, on a Test matchday, we’d have a vegetarian soup, a choice of five mains – a red meat, a chicken or white meat, a fish, a carby option and at least one vegetarian option as well. On top of that there are vegetables, potatoes, rice or more carbohydrate, depending on what the choices for mains are.
“There is a choice of desserts, too, with fruit salad and ice cream.”
The players’ meals are signed off by the national team’s nutritionist, and some intricate tweaks are made to recipes to better suit them to an athlete’s diet.
The muffins, flapjacks and brownies on offer, for example, are made using a sports protein powder which is shaken into the mix by the kitchen. Each dressing room, meanwhile, comes equipped with its own blender and stock of milk, yoghurt and fruit – a handy self-service smoothie counter.
Given the nature of what’s on offer – anything from beef bourguignon to grilled poussin to pea and mint tagliatelle – it seems somewhat incredible that the players are able to make it on to the field of play after a mere 40-minute break.
“If the bowlers are due to be bowling they’ll have something lighter or more carbohydrate-y,” Whillas says. “If the bowlers have got their feet up for the day, at Lord’s anyway, most people dive into the richest-sounding dish followed by dessert. It definitely varies day by day.”
Every meal served to the players at Lord’s is cooked on site – no microwavable Indian variety packs from the local Tesco here – and a team of four chefs, led by Andrew Kennedy prepare the feast.
“I suppose you would call the food quite clean,” says Whillas. “We don’t use a lot of oil. There is not really any deep-fried stuff.
“The nutritionist has signed off everything we’ve provided for them.”
Catering for an England squad, their backroom staff, opposition, their support team and match officials is a feat of logistics in itself.
During last year’s Test against India, Whillas was effectively operating an 80-cover restaurant for multiple sittings each day.
The legacy of Nancy Doyle MBE, legendary Lord’s chef back in the 1980s, is safe.