Hastings Priory are gearing up for their first Sussex Cricket League Premier Division derby against Eastbourne in four years.
The two clubs will go head-to-head at The Saffrons in Eastbourne today (Saturday) with local pride and precious league points up for grabs. Play will start at 12noon.
Priory coach Ian Gillespie said: “It’s going to be another difficult game I think. It should be a good wicket at The Saffrons, they’ve got match-winning players and they’ll be strengthened a bit in the bowling department because they’ll have the Bede’s boys back.”
Priory are seventh in a very congested fledgling league table - two places and 16 points above their local rivals. Both teams were narrowly beaten last weekend, Priory at home to joint leaders Brighton & Hove and Eastbourne away to fellow newly-promoted side Ifield.
“As we thought before the season started, it could be quite even,” continued Gillespie. “There’s no clear candidates to win or come bottom, teams are beating each other. Each team’s got some potential match-winners and if they come off they’re a threat.
“What we’ve learnt is probably what we knew - we’re going to have to play good cricket for the whole game to win it.
“I think we’ll probably say we played some very good cricket for periods on Saturday, but we’ve had one or two periods where we’ve not played such good cricket - only a few overs each time - but we can’t afford a poor patch of play.
“There’s definitely positives we can take from the game, plenty of positives. But we’ve got to get it right all the time or it’s potentially going to cost us.”
Ryan Hoadley and Harry Scowen are available to make their first league appearances of the season due to a gap in their school cricket commitments.
There’s a chance that Alistair Maasch, who dislocated his shoulder in the warm-up prior to the Middleton game two weeks ago, will be considered as a batsman only, while Adam Barton is thought to be another week or so from fitness.
Priory will go into today’s game off the back of a 30-run loss at home to Brighton & Hove. Priory made a decent fist of chasing Brighton’s daunting total of 297-4, finishing their reply on 267 all out in 48.2 overs. For a report on that game click here.
Gillespie said: “It was the first time this year our bowlers have come under real pressure. Matt Machan is an A-list player, very adept at the limited overs game and played beautifully, as did Bryce Hounsome.
“Arguably we perhaps didn’t use the new ball as well as we could’ve done and then we were under quite a lot of pressure, but our bowlers stuck to it.
“We didn’t field especially well as the pressure told towards the back end of the innings. Maybe saving ourselves 10, 15 runs might have made all the difference.
“Batting-wise I thought it was a pleasing response to such a big total. Tom (Gillespie) and Joe Billings played very well at a very good pace, and we were almost in the driving seat at that point.
“It was a long way to go, but we brought the (required) rate down to a very respectable five, five-and-a-half (per over) and we were looking good.
“What we didn’t need was to lose both of them in quick succession, followed by Greg Devlin. Suddenly we were four down and had to rebuild a bit, which we did.
“John Morgan and Jake Woolley batted us back into the game, and with 20 overs to go we wanted just over 120, and we were right back in it.
“They bowled quite intelligently and put us under pressure. We lost our momentum a bit. There were probably five or six overs where we only scored 18, 20 runs, and the rate suddenly went up to eight and the pressure was very much on again. Morgs perished as a consequence of that.
“It was a good response to get 260 and showed what we could do with the bat. Jake batted assertively, and Joe and Tom were very pleasing.”
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