With 140 clubs and 355 teams, the SCL has edged out the neighbouring Hampshire League as the world's biggest recreational set-up, and the proposal was carried in a closely contested vote, by 114 in favour to 89 against.
It means that home sides will no longer be obliged to provide food during the innings break, although they will still be expected to offer cold and hot drinks for players on both sides, as well as the match officials. The innings break in Sussex league fixtures will remain 30 minutes in length.
The announcement met with a predictable wave of reaction on social media, with the traditional image of the bountiful mid-innings spread prompting much nostalgic outpouring. Piers Morgan and former England captain Michael Vaughan were among those who pitched in. For cricketers of all generations, faced with dropped catches and first-ball ducks, a good tea has quite often ended up being the saving grace of a weekend afternoon.
However, the reality for many modern-day league sides is far less idyllic, with a decline in the number of volunteers willing to focus on the catering, and the onus tending to fall on hard-pressed match managers, whose main priority is to ensure 11 fit and able players for any given contest.
Match teas were suspended as a precautionary measure during the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, after comments from the prime minister, Boris Johnson, appeared to single out their social aspect as one of the main reasons why the recreational game could not take place for the whole of April, May and June.
Instead, players were encouraged to bring their own food when the sport resumed in July – the supermarket £3 meal deals did a roaring trade - and with many clubs facing cash-flow issues in the wake of the pandemic, the opportunity to offload the financial burden of the cricket tea is one that looks set to catch on.
Other leagues up and down the country are expected to follow Sussex's example and offer their members a vote in the coming weeks and months, although the Southern Premier League’s well-oiled AGM has been and gone with tea and cream buns not on the agenda, so good news for the clubs going to Hambledon, Hartley Wintney and Hook & Newnham Basics, arguably top of the tea table – that’s provided we get back to normality and get 50-over cricket back next summer.