‘Crunch time’ in Priory’s season

Adam Barton is bowled during Hastings Priory's defeat at Roffey last weekend. Picture by Steve Robards
Adam Barton is bowled during Hastings Priory's defeat at Roffey last weekend. Picture by Steve Robards
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Hastings Priory Cricket Club is approaching what coach Ian Gillespie has called ‘crunch time’ in its Sussex Premier League season.

Priory’s next three games are all against the other three clubs in the bottom four of the table, starting with the visit from Brighton & Hove today (Saturday). Play is due to start at 12noon.

Gillespie said: “Three wins in those three and we would be middle of the table with a 5-5 record. But if we don’t win any of those, we really will be looking over our shoulder so it’s crunch time for us the next three games.”

Priory currently occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom, but their advantage over second-from-bottom neighbours Bexhill - who they will visit in the final game of the first half of the season next weekend - has been cut to 19 points after last weekend’s 10-wicket loss at Roffey.

“We’ve got to put it right quickly, but it’s very difficult when you’re in that position with players’ form and confidence in a collective way,” continued Gillespie.

“We’ve got to keep practising, keep working, keep believing and stick together - that’s the important thing. If we keep doing the right things, it will eventually come good.”

Priory were bowled out for exactly 100 against Roffey - the fourth time in seven league matches they’ve scored less than 130, despite the fine weather providing good batting conditions.

“We’ve bowled well this season, but there’s no question we’re under-performing at the moment with the bat,” Gillespie went on.

“We’re making some poor decisions and we’re lacking confidence because we’re not scoring runs. Often you might have one or two people out of form, but it’s unusual for it to go across the whole side.

“The only people who can put this right are our batsmen, by taking individual responsibility and battling through difficult times. We’ve got the ability, there’s enough talent there.”

Priory will be eager to avoid defeat at home for the first time in the league this season when they host a Brighton side which they trail by 23 points.

Sussex opening batsman Harry Finch was in line to make his first Priory appearance in two years until being informed by the county he’s required for practice. Priory will hope the same applies to Brighton’s trio of Sussex players, Matt Machan, Phil Salt and Luke Wells.

Jed O’Brien came through the Roffey game unscathed despite his broken finger and captain Tom Gillespie is back in the equation after making his comeback from a dislocated shoulder with the second team last weekend.

Sussex Premier League standings (all played 7 matches): 1 East Grinstead 184pts, 2 Cuckfield 168, 3 Roffey 167, 4 Horsham 157, 5 Preston Nomads 141, 6 Middleton 133, 7 Brighton & Hove 112, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 89, 9 BEXHILL 70, 10 Ansty 43.