Sussex Cricket League: Clubs allowed to stop providing tea at matches after vote

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Tea at a village cricket match
Tea in the Sussex Cricket League will be replaced with a 30-minute drinks break

The tea interval at cricket - one of the most quintessentially English things there is.

Often a fine selection of cakes, sandwiches, crisps and pies, it can often be the highlight of the game if your side has been on the wrong end of a slogging in the opening innings.

But the world's biggest recreational league has voted to allow clubs to decide if they want to provide the full tea experience or not next season.

Instead, clubs in the Sussex Cricket League - which has 140 clubs and 335 teams - will only be obliged to provide hot and cold drinks to players.

"In 2020 we didn't have any choice," explained league chairman Gary Stanley to BBC Sport.

"With the pandemic the cricket we played was a short season and there was no option to provide teas, everyone had to provide their own food as it wasn't allowed.

"Lots of clubs, and this was proposed by six or seven of them, came to us and said 'we want to propose that the obligation to provide teas for 2021 is removed'. This is only for 2021 - it can be changed for the following season."

There will still be a 30-minute break between innings while umpires will have a slight increase in their match fees to cover their own tea.

But while the image of the village cricket team providing tea is still there, the reality has become somewhat different over recent years.

Costs have risen, volunteer numbers have fallen and with extra issues surrounding dietary requirements, providing a tea can be a potential minefield.

"Decades ago there was the quaint idea of every club having a lady that prepared the teas for their teams out of love," added Stanley.

"There are clubs that are still fortunate enough to have that, but large numbers don't and often it's a case of 'which player will provide it this week?'.

"As a result you quite frankly get some poor teas. I'm sure some clubs are annoyed by providing a great tea at home and a curled sandwich and a packet of value crisps away.

"It's possible that this may be a moot point as come April or May we may have to operate under the same rules as we did in 2020 if Covid is still around and we still have to provide our own teas."

The reaction on Twitter was, as you can imagine, mixed to say the least.

Some clubs say they will still provide teas...

Others appreciated that there are costs than can be associated with tea...

There were those that thought it might be a good thing for the image of the game...

While others saw it as the beginning of the end for the game we know and love...

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