South African ace sinks Priory

Elliot Hooper took five wickets with the ball for Hastings Priory against Middleton.
Elliot Hooper took five wickets with the ball for Hastings Priory against Middleton.

Hastings Priory’s cricketers are still searching for their first home league win of the season after losing to Middleton on Saturday.

Priory went down by 86 runs in a Sussex Premier League match which will be remembered for the brilliant 144 of Middleton’s overseas player Gerhardt Abrahams.

The 26-year-old South African dominated the visitors’ score of 213 all out after they won the toss and chose to bat. No other batsman reached 15 and only three others made it to double figures as Elliot Hooper took five wickets for Priory.

John Morgan (4-0-35-1) made an early breakthrough for Priory by bowling Angus Robson with the score just four, but that wicket brought Abrahams to the crease and he swiftly forged a second wicket partnership of 53 with Will Burrows, the next highest scorer with 14.

After Hooper pinned Burrows lbw, the same bowler claimed the big wicket of Middleton captain Sean Heather for six off 24 balls to make it 79-3. That soon became 85-4 when Hooper struck again, this time dismissing Ben Hansford for five.

Priory claimed their fifth and sixth wickets with the score on 106, Jed O’Brien (12-2-39-3) trapping Ben Farbrache leg before for 12 and then repeating the trick to snap up Matthew Reynolds for a second ball duck.

O’Brien claimed his third victim by catching Matt Cooke (13) off his own bowling and when Hooper had Craig Fowle (5) caught by Morgan (his third catch of the day), Middleton were 143-8.

Abrahams was still going strong, though, and he proceeded to score 60 of the 67 runs in a crucial ninth wicket partnership with Tommy Davies, who provided valuable support until being undone by Finn Hulbert (8-2-25-1) for seven off 30 balls.

Hooper finally dismissed Abrahams three runs later to complete his five-for and close the innings, albeit only after Middleton’s number three had blasted 14 fours and five sixes in a match-defining 126-ball knock.

Priory were never in the hunt in reply as they stumbled to 127 all out in 37.2 overs, Cooke tearing the heart out of the top order by taking 4-32.

The innings got off to a bad start when James Pooley was caught and bowled by Cooke for a duck with the score just two.

Cooke then got rid of Leo Cammish, Justin Dsouza and Hooper - a trio who scored more than 150 runs between them against Preston Nomads the previous weekend - to leave Priory 25-4.

And when Davies (8-1-21-2) saw off George Eldridge (5) and Jason Finch (11), Priory were in all sorts of trouble at 43-6.

Opening bowlers Morgan and Hulbert helped give the innings some respectability, between them adding 38 for the eighth wicket, the majority of them scored by Hulbert until he fell for 33.

Morgan battled valiantly to at least earn Priory one batting point - in addition to their 10 bowling points - before being ninth man out for 34 off 83 balls with four fours and a six. Jack Coleman departed for seven before another run had been added as Middleton wrapped up victory.

Sussex Premier League standings (all played 6 matches): 1 East Grinstead 154pts, 2 Cuckfield 138, Roffey 137, 4 Horsham 127, 5 Middleton 120, 6 Preston Nomads 113, 7 Brighton & Hove 110, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 89, 9 BEXHILL 62, 10 Ansty 40.