The Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s players and coaching staff headed to Leeds on Thursday for a pre-season training session with a difference.
The players took time out of winter nets and headed for Japanese restaurant Teppankayi, where they were given the opportunity to create their own dishes, as well as scoffing the fruits of their labour.
First XI coach Andrew Gale was one of a 20-strong group who took turns to cook on one of the restaurant’s giant hot plates.
He told yorkshireccc.com: “We know its going to be a massive summer for us and one of the things we’ve talked about is getting around each other and creating that team spirit that was successful for us over the last five years. We probably got away from that last year, but we want to get around each other and create a togetherness. When things aren’t going well for you, team spirit really sees you through.
“It’s easy at this time of year because there’s no pressure. The key will be if we can create that good team spirit and camaraderie when the season comes around. When you lose a couple of games, that togetherness pulls you through and pulls you out of it quicker when you’re in a rut. In terms of our senior lads, we’ve got four in Bangladesh and three in Australia, but the core of the team is here and they’re all getting round each other which is funny to see.”
After a dazzling display by two of the restaurants’ very talented chefs, it was time for the players to take over.
With the lads working hard on their fitness and skills it was veteran bowler Steve Patterson, 34, who has played for the Club since he was 16-years-old, who came up with the idea of getting the squad involved in non-cricket activities during the off-season.
“I just wanted to do some team bonding,” said Patterson, a two-time County Championship winner with the White Rose. “We do a lot of exercise based activities as part of our training so I wanted to try something a little bit different. We’ve got quite a few young lads in our squad, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to learn a few new skills and also have a bit of a laugh at the same time.
“We were cooking chicken, steak and egg fried rice.”
Japanese food is big business in Leeds with chefs juggling and flipping food using their theatrical skills on hot plate in front of the customers.
Marianne Banks, co-owner of Teppanyaki, who helped arrange the afternoon’s event said: “We don’t normally let the customers get involved with the cooking but on this one occasion the players had a go at cooking while the chefs were supervising.
“They did a really good job and seemed to really enjoy it. It is nice to be able to watch your food being cooked in front of you.”
Batsman Jack Leaning, who was momentarily dragged away from his egg fried rice, said: “It’s just a bit of a team building exercise really and a bit of a feed with the lads. We’re having a crack at making each other’s food for the afternoon.
“Cricket is quite a long pre-season, so if you’re just in the gym training and going home it can get a little bit tedious at times so it’s good to have a day out as a bunch of mates as well as cricketers. To do something a bit different like this, something you wouldn’t normally do, it’s a good idea. It’s good to see the people who jump up and have a crack at it and the people who are just maybe having beans on toast at home for dinner and are a little afraid.”
Speaking to the media at the popular Leeds-based restaurant, which is set to celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, Gale revealed that this week’s fixture release had also proved a timely boost.
“At this moment in time it’s about building team spirit,” he continued. “It’s also about trying to get the lads as fit as we can. The good thing is they’ve come back in as good a condition as they have since I’ve been at the Club. Technically, we’re really hammering the basics until Christmas. That’s what I’ve said to the boys, we have to get he basics right. After Christmas we can start to work on specific game plans, tactics and individual game plans .
“Coming into the indoor nets can be a bit monotonous and when it starts to get to January or February you start to run your mind to those fixtures. Looking at the fixture list, to play the Champions at home first up will be a real test for us and I’m certainly looking forward to that one.”