Hastings Priory’s cricketers are targeting another strong showing as they get set to start their league campaign.
Priory will be looking to continue their momentum after winning promotion from Sussex Cricket League Division Two in 2015 and securing a top half Premier League finish last summer.
“The important thing is always to stay up; that’s your first target to tick off,” said Priory coach Ian Gillespie. “Last year we did that quite well and quite quickly, and if we can do the same again, potentially we would look for a similar position.
“I think we always will regard every game as it comes regardless of where we are in the league and if we get a run going, we’ve got the potential to break into the top four. But if you do fail to win a few, it can quickly put you in trouble.
“We’ve got to make sure we play good cricket and be competitive in each game, and make sure we take opportunities when they come along and don’t give them away. It’s important to put whole games together and not just parts of games.”
Priory will kick-off their league campaign at home to East Grinstead today (Saturday) buoyed by a pair of cup victories over the last two weekends.
“We’ve had two good, competitive cup wins, which is good,” continued Gillespie. “We’ve looked good and purposeful in both of those games, and played nicely. It’s going to be interesting to see how it gets going in the league.
“Keeping everyone fit and available is the critical thing for us now. If we’re all fit, we’ll be okay. If we suffer some injuries, we might struggle a little bit.
“The bowling attack has got good balance - we’re a different team if Adam Barton’s playing - and I think we’re supported quite well in the field. Probably the question mark is if we can score enough runs again, but the younger players are that bit more experienced so we should be okay.”
The Sussex League playing format is slightly different this year. The first five and last four games will be win or lose 50-overs-per-side limited overs affairs, with timed matches (ie. the format used in previous years where games can also end in draws) in between.
Gillespie said: “I don’t mind if we play 50/50 - I think both forms have their merits and perhaps to the modern generation a win is a win - but I think I would prefer we just play the same format all the way through.
“Having said that, it will be interesting to see how teams adjust to it. Teams certainly will have to have more bowlers available to them. It’s making sure you’ve got five bowlers available week in, week out; you won’t be able to get by with two or three.
“We’ve shown we can win in that format (matches in the ECB Royal London Club Championship are 45-overs-per-side). It’s not a format we’re alien to so I don’t see why we can’t. I don’t think we’re worse off.”
Gillespie considers new recruit Matt Cammish a like-for-like replacement for Bradley Payne and hopes the returning Jason Finch can score the sort of runs that the overseas player did last year. Priory at present don’t have an overseas player this term.
Finch, Elliot Hooper and John Morgan will come into the reckoning for today’s match having been unavailable for last weekend’s Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup victory over Eastbourne. Play will get underway from 12noon at Horntye Park.
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