Howzat! Meat is OUT as vegan cricket club plans to ban leather balls
- Earley Cricket Club have become the first team to turn completely vegan
- The Berkshire club are testing vegan cricket balls made using a rubber covering
- Earley Cricket Club’s menu now features vegan tagines, curries and pasta dishes
Most cricketers are happy to hear the sound of leather on willow.
But not the players from Earley Cricket Club. They have become the first team to turn completely vegan – and that includes shunning the traditional leather cricket balls.
The Berkshire club are testing vegan cricket balls made using a rubber covering. Chairman Gary Shacklady, 33, who turned vegan five years ago, is confident that adopting a solely plant-based lifestyle will give the team the edge over their opponents.
The traditional teas served during matches have been animal product-free for two years and have been well received. However, players are still getting to grips with the switch to vegan cricket balls.
Masterstroke? Earley Cricket Club are testing vegan cricket balls made using a rubber cover
‘It does behave like a leather cricket ball, but it bounces more and it’s more difficult to grip,’ Mr Shacklady said. ‘But we’re enthused by it and we’re hopeful of finding a better version.’
The opening batsman set up the club, on the outskirts of Reading, 12 years ago.
But Mr Shacklady, a primary school teacher and former Countdown contestant, found that after he turned vegan he could no longer eat match teas – usually ham sandwiches. He also felt that the club’s meat-based catering meant Muslim and Hindu players were being excluded. So two years ago he set about creating a menu of homemade vegan meals.
The traditional teas served during matches have been animal product-free for two years (Pictured: Earley Cricket Club playing cricket on Saturday August 3)
‘We had one member who was very against it.’ Mr Shacklady said. ‘He felt that it was quite exclusive and against people’s right to meat.’
But the club’s committee voted six to one in favour of the switch. Its menu now features vegan tagines, curries and pasta dishes.
‘The teas have been well received as our players understand and support the reasoning behind the decision,’ he said. ‘It also means we can produce a far larger quantity of food for a lower cost.
‘When other teams come to us, they pile their plates high. And when they eat the food, nobody complains. Although you usually get one middle-aged white man who is horrified – it’s fine, he doesn’t have to eat it. But the point is that everyone can.’
Players are still getting to grips with the switch to vegan cricket balls (stock image)
Mr Shacklady, the youngest chairman of a UK cricket club, hoped that by making Earley vegan his teammates would be inspired to ditch meat and dairy – and four have done so.
He now hopes other teams in the Berkshire Cricket League will switch from the traditional leather-covered ball to a synthetic animal-free one.
Earley is following in the footsteps of the world’s first vegan football club, League Two side Forest Green Rovers. The club, based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, serves Quorn and leek pies to supporters.
And Earley’s players are not the only cricketers to follow a plant-based diet. Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle, due to line up against England at Lord’s today, is vegan, as is India captain Virat Kohli, the world number one batsman.
The Vegan Society said: ‘Earley Cricket Club is the world’s first cricket club to serve a fully plant-based menu. We hope other clubs and organisations will follow Earley Cricket Club’s decision to switch to an all-vegan menu for everyone’s benefit.’