It’s time to talk about John Emburey inhaling an entire creme caramel in one go like some kind of pudding hoover

Posted by
4 minute read

This article is about the time former England off-spinner John Emburey leant over a creme caramel and sucked the whole thing up without using his hands.

We watched Sky Sports’ Spinwash ’93 documentary the other day. More accurately, we finished watching it.

Apparently we watched the first 20-odd minutes over the summer and then completely forgot to watch the rest of it. (It’s also worth pointing out that it took a good 20 of those 20-odd minutes of the rewatch before we were confident we’d seen that segment before. A psychologist could no doubt deduce something about our failing mind from the slow speed of our dawning realisation.)

One of the things we like about Sky Sports is that they don’t just concentrate on successes. They’re quite happy to make an entire feature length film about a 3-0 defeat too. Built around behind-the-scenes footage shot by Dermot Reeve, Spinwash is about England’s highly eventful and highly unsuccessful 1993 tour of India.

The film features a number of striking off-field moments.

Here’s an innocently napping Ian Salisbury about to be roused by smelling salts, for example.

And here’s Graham Gooch absolutely off his mash as a result of illness.

Some of you will also feel quite a strong emotional reaction upon witnessing the scene where Dave “Rooster” Roberts performs minor surgery on Paul Jarvis’s toe and toenail using a penknife.

There are memorable on-field moments too, like Mike Gatting missing the easiest catch in history.

There’s also a very touching bit where Chris Lewis talks about his sole Test century.

“As a young boy, from the Caribbean, I grew up wanting to be Viv Richards,” he says.

“To have that one day in the sun, in India, where I felt like a Test batsman – and the score suggested I was a Test batsman – I’ll take that one. I would have liked a few more, but to have done it once at least, I enjoyed it much.”

And you can hear in Lewis’s voice that he still enjoys it now.

But none of this is anywhere near as memorable as John Emburey lowering his maw towards a plate and sucking up a whole creme caramel.

According to Gooch, the England team of this era, “used to get them to bring out 20 to 25 creme caramels,” at the end of meals.

We particularly like the “used to” part of that. This wasn’t a one-off. This was a recognised thing that they regularly did.

Mike Atherton reckons that the contests were a competitive business. We can’t imagine why given that Emburey must surely have been in a different league to everyone else.

Seriously, just take a look.

This is before…

… this is when he strikes…

… and this is after.

In Reeve’s footage, Emburey can be seen immediately pointing to that tiny flat pancake bit that’s broken off, clearly disappointed with his performance. This is a man operating on another plane of creme caramel inhaling.

There are three key things we need to get across to you here.

  1. The speed of the attack. This isn’t a slow, big-mouthed descent-and-capture. This is fast. Emburey lashes out with the speed of a trap-jaw ant
  2. The sound. The quite alarming violence of the move is almost entirely undercut by the cartoonish schlurp sound that accompanies it
  3. Emburey was 40 when he did this

Amusingly, Emburey says that he hated creme caramel. He theorises that he became so adept at downing them so that he didn’t have to spend long eating them. Or, you know, you could just avoid creme caramels altogether?

But then that would of course have denied the world his obvious excellence in this sphere, so fair enough really.

Here’s a link to the scene in question.

We’ve also embedded the first part of Spinwash below. You find part two here and part three here.

Quite obviously we would watch this sort of stuff anyway, but we’d struggle to find the time to write about it if it weren’t for our Patreon backers. You can find more details here if you’d maybe like to join them in helping fund King Cricket.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Great stuff.

    On another topic, is it time to start discussing ‘through the night’ Ashes strategies? Or are we all too old and tired these days?

    1. I’ve been struggling to sleep enough of late that one more nocturnal nightmare can’t really make much difference at this stage… not yet decided if I want to watch the carnage or listen to it on the old DAB radio (this would be its fifth such Ashes tour, having dayboo’d for the tour that didn’t actually happen in 06/07).

    2. If you’re sleeping badly but still need to get up in the morning, we can recommend the grim adrenal shot of checking the scorecard first thing as a sharp waker-upper.

    1. Had to think for a minute, the term’s become so ingrained. But yes – excellent spot.

      Well done. Have 100,000 KC points.

  2. Crème caramel competitive gulping should be a replicable event.

    I shall ask the powers that be at NW8 to set up such a tournament. It should not be held at Lord’s – the catering at HQ is now a bit too modern for that.


    The retro cuisine of choice in NW8, loved by “the old guard” from Lord’s (but unequivocally unloved by Ged & Daisy) is Oslo Court:

    I’m pretty sure the Oslo Court dessert trolley would still have crème caramel aplenty.

    1. Possibly not at the forefront of Ajaz’s mind just now, APW.

      My understand, though, is that crème caramel, like many dishes we consider retro here in the UK now, is still considered to be a popular, modern dessert in New Zealand.

    1. The thirst extinguisher has a real licence to lurk. Do you have any photos it hasn’t photo bombed?

      1. There are just shy of 25,000 photographs on that flickr account to date, of which perhaps a dozen have the lurking thirst extinguisher. But thanks for sharing your concerns, KC.

      1. Sorry to have to report to everyone that the Ged & Daisy dessert session comprised the civilised, teaspoon-style eating of one Bonne Maman crème caramel each.

        We’ll have to leave the gulping contest to others who, in Daisy’s words, are childish enough and insensitive enough to the fact that most people in the world cannot afford the luxury of treating luxury food like a game. That’s Embers told.

        Ironically, though, an unexpected posh meal is coming our way, quite by chance, via a fundraiser for the very food charity Daisy and I have been helping throughout the pandemic:

  3. It was my great privilige to play a match against John Emburey in a synthetic cricket comp in Australia, apparently a friend of a friend was on the other team and he had an afternoon free.
    I didn’t realise I was bowling to him until the keeper dropped him and apologised at the end of the over for denying me the wicket of an English captain. I made sure I was out to umpire when he was bowling and even in his 60s his control was amazing. I even got to see the arm ball as he clean bowled one of our best batsmen.
    His physique looked like he would still be able to inhale a cream caramel or two. Great bloke.

Comments are closed.