Leaders Priory are the real deal

Hastings Priory cricket action. 28/5/11
Hastings Priory cricket action. 28/5/11

John Morgan believes Hastings Priory are genuine title contenders after outplaying Preston Nomads last weekend.

Priory are nine points clear at the top of the Sussex Cricket League Premier Division table having won four and drawn one of their first five matches.

That draw came against Nomads, the champions for the last three years and four of the last five, when Priory amassed 318-3 batting first before limiting their opponents to 241-7 in reply.

Asked if that result marks them out as genuine challengers for top spot, opening bowler Morgan said: “Definitely. From what we know you’re probably looking at the top sides being Nomads, Horsham and ourselves.

“We’re a serious outfit and we’re stepping into that frame now, especially with the squad we’ve got at the moment. We’ve got a good squad of 17 people who are all capable of doing an adequate job.”

Morgan also believes that Priory go into the derby at Eastbourne today (Saturday) as favourites. Seventh-placed Eastbourne are already 52 points worse off than Priory and were shot out for 86 by Roffey last weekend.

“I think we are favourites, but we can’t take them easily,” continued Morgan. “They’ve got a very good batsman in their captain Mark Tomsett and (former England international) Ed Giddins opens the bowling for them.

“But we go into that expecting to be the better side and expecting to win which I think shows how far we’ve come from last year.”

It will certainly be a showcase of different bowling styles at The Saffrons. While Eastbourne boast an impressive seam attack, Priory have used three or even four spinners to good effect this season.

Priory are unlikely to have Kirk Wernars, who smashed an unbeaten 167 against Nomads, as the South African is expected to be involved in Sussex’s T20 campaign, but fellow professional Machan will probably feature.

Although Andy Cornford is working and Morgan will rest a knee problem, Jack Parsons is available for the second week running. Freddie Hulbert and Dale Payne could come in. Sussex wicketkeeper Ben Brown looks set to play for Eastbourne.