Key player back at Hastings for second versus third clash

Joe Billings
Joe Billings

Hastings Priory Cricket Club will be boosted by the return of a key player for a second versus third clash today (Saturday).

Joe Billings is back from university in Leeds and is likely to open the batting for third-placed Priory away to second-placed St James’s Montefiore in 1st Central Sussex Cricket League Division Two.

Priory coach Ian Gillespie said: “That will make a big difference because he’s a top quality player.”

See also: * Hastings coach was ‘quite confident’ of victory
* Hastings’ bid for back-to-back wins thwarted by rain
* Hastings Priory and Little Common Ramblers picture special
* Hastings close in on promotion spots after victory

Billings was Priory’s leading runscorer in the Premier Division last summer with 619 from 17 innings, including two hundreds, at an average of 36.41.

His first appearance this term will come in an important game because Priory are 12 points behind a St James side which occupies the second and final promotion place.

Asked if he expects the match to be Priory’s toughest of the season so far, Gillespie said: “I would think so. This is one you would’ve picked out at the start of the season as being a key game.

“They’re a good side and they’re playing very well. It’s a difficult place to go as well. It will be a very tough game and we’ll certainly have to be on top of our game.

“The wicket is slightly different from ours. We’re going to have to play extremely well and be right on top of our game.”

Priory, who will still be without injured fast bowler Adam Pye, have won four, lost two and had one abandonment in their seven matches so far.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” continued Gillespie. “If we could get a result on Saturday, suddenly we’ve got momentum and we’re going forward quite nicely.

“We’ve then got Ifield and Goring (the division’s bottom two sides) the following two weeks where we would fancy our chances.

“The last we went up (in 2015) I think we had seven wins and two defeats in the first nine games. If we could get a win this week, we would be looking at a similar sort of position.”