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Cricket Lunch Duration: How Long Is the Break?

By CricketersChoice Editors

When we’re engrossed in the riveting world of Test cricket, the ebb and flow of the game isn’t just about the runs and wickets. It’s also about the well-deserved breaks that punctuate the day. The lunch interval, a cricketing tradition, offers players and fans alike a moment to catch their breath.

In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of the lunch break in Test cricket. How long do players get to refuel and strategise? We’re here to give you the lowdown on this essential part of the game’s rhythm, ensuring you’re well-versed in the intricacies of cricket’s time-honoured customs.

The Significance of the Lunch Break in Test Cricket

Test cricket’s natural ebb and flow are defined by its periodic pauses, with the lunch break taking center stage. It doesn’t just mark a pause in play; it separates the morning and afternoon sessions, offering athletes a crucial period to regroup. We understand that at its core, cricket is not just a game of skill but also one of endurance and concentration. Here’s where the importance of the lunch break comes into sharp focus.

At 40 minutes, the lunch break is the most extended interval during a day’s play in Test cricket. Starting around 1pm BST for matches commencing at 11am, players leverage this time to carefully consider their nutritional intake. Properly fueling the body is essential, not just in supporting physical exertion but also in maintaining mental sharpness for the challenges ahead.

The timing of the lunch break itself is delicately positioned – precisely two hours into the day’s play. This ensures that players are neither overtaxed nor under-engaged. We’ve observed that even though they’ve been on the field for considerable time, their performance doesn’t wane after the break, highlighting the significance of this interval.

The duration of the breaks in Test cricket is no mere convenience; it’s a thoughtful construct that respects the intricacies of the sport.



Lunch Break


Tea Break


By breaking down the sessions into manageable slots, the players can push themselves hard during play knowing a well-timed respite is just around the corner.

It’s not just the physical benefits that we note; the psychological boost cannot be overstated. A well-earned break can reignite a batsman’s focus or offer a bowler the chance to strategize their next spell. The rhythm of the day’s cricket hinges on these intervals, and the lunch break anchors this rhythm with thoughtful timing and duration, exemplifying the tactical nuances embedded in the tradition of the sport.

The Traditions and Customs Surrounding the Lunch Interval

In the intricate tapestry of Test cricket, the lunch interval is woven with a series of traditions and customs that honour the game’s rich history. Beyond the call of “Time” signalling a pause in play, the 40-minute lunch break is a moment deeply embedded in the culture of cricket, echoing the sport’s longstanding values of fair play and respect.

Cricket, after all, respects the well-being of its players, with regulations in place ensuring everyone’s on the same page. Law 11.2.1 of the game’s guiding principles stipulates that the duration of a lunch interval is agreed upon under consultation with captains. This coordination ensures that every match retains a certain standardised rhythm.

The break also acts as a bridge connecting the morning and afternoon sessions. It isn’t just about fuelling the body with nutrition; it’s about adopting a strategic mindset. Planning over lunch can influence the course of the game, where discussions on tactics and approaches for the upcoming session takes precedence. The 40-minute interval provides players and coaches the necessary time to evaluate and adapt to the day’s progression.

Here’s how a typical Test cricket day breaks down:



Interval Type

Interval Duration

First (Pre-Lunch)

2 hours


40 minutes

Second (Post-Lunch)

2 hours


20 minutes

Third (Post-Tea)

2.5 hours



As we understand it, time away from the field is critical for players to maintain their intensity and performance levels. The conventions in place, such as Law 11.5.3, protect the sanctity of the lunch break. Even if play is interrupted, lunch is taken at the agreed upon time unless both captains and umpires decide otherwise.

Moreover, the viewing public has a vested interest in the sharpness and vitality of the players—it enhances the viewing experience. Just as actors need an intermission, cricketers require this interval to keep delivering a top-notch spectacle.

The Duration of the Lunch Break: How Long Do Players Get?

Let’s delve into the specifics of this pivotal interval. The lunch break is undisputedly the longest halt in play within a Test match, lasting precisely 40 minutes. This pause commences two hours after the start of the day’s play and is considered the first and most significant scheduled intermission of the day. Test cricket, with its unique rhythm, designates this time for players to boost their stamina for the remaining sessions.

Test cricketers cannot simply rely on sandwiches and cake for sustenance, unlike in club cricket. Instead, their lunch period is a crucial time for careful nutritional intake to help maintain peak physical condition and concentration levels. The food choices made during this period can have a substantial impact on their performance in the post-lunch session.

Every Test match day is structured with start and finish times that consider the need for breaks. With a start time of 11 am, two hours of play precede the lunch break, signalling the players to retreat momentarily from the field. After lunch, play resumes at 1.40 pm – an optimal schedule that aligns with players’ physiological needs.



Start Time

Resumption Time


40 mins

1 pm

1.40 pm

The game’s governing bodies have enshrined the lunch interval timings to ensure that there is no overextension in the morning session. Not only does this protect the physical welfare of the athletes, but it also enhances the quality of cricket showcased to the viewing public who eagerly anticipate top-tier performance throughout the day.

Essentially, the lunch break in Test cricket plays a central role in dividing the day’s activities. It not only gives players the needed respite from consistent physical exertion but also holds space for strategic discussions and mental preparations for the hours of skilful play that lie ahead.

How Players Utilize the Lunch Break for Rest and Strategic Planning

During the arduous hours of play in a Test cricket match, the lunch break emerges as a pivotal moment for players. It’s not just about refueling with nutritious food; it’s a crucial 40 minutes that can make or break the game’s momentum. During this allocated downtime, players congregate in the dressing room, not just to eat but to embrace a moment of respite from the high-intensity environment of the field.

Strategic discussions often take center stage as players dissect the morning’s play. This is a golden opportunity to analyze the opposition, scrutinize personal performances, and recalibrate strategies. Further, it’s a time to reassess conditions which, in cricket, can change as swiftly as the weather, affecting everything from bowling strategies to shot selections.

Hydration and nutrition form the cornerstones of this break.

  • Players focus on their diet that’s engineered to sustain energy levels

  • Hydration gets priority – with efforts to replenish fluids lost during the morning session

This carefully moderated intake ensures that players are not only physically recharged but also mentally alert as they prepare for challenges ahead. It’s common for physiotherapists and trainers to engage with players, assisting with any immediate recovery needs, like muscle stiffness, that could impede performance in the subsequent sessions.

Beyond the practicalities of rest and nourishment, the lunch break serves as a psychological breather. Players step away from the public gaze, regroup with teammates, and build camaraderie, which can be vital in sustaining morale, particularly if the morning session has been testing.

Here’s how an effective lunch break could translate into superior afternoon performance:

Break Utilization

Potential Benefits

Nutritional Intake & Hydration

Sustained energy and focus

Strategic Discussions

Adaptation to changing conditions and opposition tactics

Physical and Psychological Recovery

Enhanced concentration and morale

As this period concludes, there’s a palpable sense of rejuvenation within the team. Fresh plans have been forged, and players return to the pitch with renewed vigour, ready to face whatever the afternoon session may throw at them.

The Impact of the Lunch Break on the Game’s Flow and Momentum

Lunch breaks in cricket are more than just a pause for sustenance; they’re a strategic intermission that can influence the entire day’s play. The 40-minute lunch break in Test cricket acts as a crucial pivot in the match’s rhythm. It’s the line that separates two intense sessions of play, where players have been exerting themselves on the field for prolonged periods. This is a time when the flow and momentum of the game can dramatically shift.

Consider the scenario where a batting team has been under immense pressure from the bowling side. The lunch break presents an opportunity for batsmen to escape this onslaught, regroup, and plan a counter-attack. Similarly, a bowling team that has struggled to find their rhythm in the morning session has time to reassess and return with fresh tactics. This isn’t just conjecture, it’s a calculated aspect of the game that teams use to their advantage. They know that a well-utilized break can turn the tide in their favour.

From the viewers’ perspective, a break in play heightens anticipation. Fans relish the return of players to the field as the next session promises a refreshed and rejuvenated approach. Our experience tells us spectators want to see players performing at their peak, and the break facilitates this by allowing the necessary rest and recuperation.

Lunch Break Duration

Influence on Game’s Flow

40 Minutes

Strategically Significant


Momentum Shifts Possible

During the break, players focus on three key areas: hydration, nutrition, and strategy. Proper hydration ensures that players maintain their concentration levels, while nutrition is about more than just grabbing a bite. It involves a careful selection of food that can fuel the rest of the day’s intensive physical and mental demands. Our own encounters with meal breaks, even in club cricket, stress the need to appease hunger, but in Tests, the focus sharpens to peak performance.

Strategically, the dressing room buzzes with analysis and anticipation. Coaches and captains dissect the morning’s play, adjustments are made, and synergy is built. This midday junction sets the stage for the afternoon’s duels, making the lunch break an integral part of the game’s ebb and flow.


We’ve seen how the lunch break in cricket is much more than just a pause for a meal. It’s a strategic interlude that shapes the course of the match. By optimizing their time off the field, teams can return with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear plan of action. This period is essential for maintaining peak performance and can often be the difference between winning and losing. As fans, we eagerly await the post-lunch session to witness the impact of these midday deliberations on the game’s outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of the lunch break in Test cricket?

The lunch break in Test cricket is vital for players to refuel, rest, and engage in strategic planning. It allows time for analysis of the game, recalibration of strategies, and team camaraderie, crucial for enhancing afternoon performance.

How does the lunch break affect players’ performance?

A proper lunch break can lead to improved player performance by ensuring sustained energy and focus. It allows time for adapting to changing conditions, maintaining concentration, and strengthening team morale.

Can strategy be changed during the lunch break?

Yes, the lunch break is an opportunity for coaches and captains to assess the morning’s play and make strategic adjustments. This can include changing the batting or bowling order, or altering field placements.

Why is nutrition important during the lunch break in cricket?

Nutrition is crucial during the cricket lunch break to replenish energy and fluids lost during the morning session. It is essential for maintaining players’ physical stamina and concentration levels for the remainder of the day.

What psychological benefits does the lunch break provide in Test cricket?

The lunch break provides a psychological respite for players, allowing them to relax, build camaraderie, and escape from the pressures of the morning session. This is important for regrouping and preparing mentally for the next phase of the match.