Plenty of positives, says Priory coach
Hastings Priory coach Ian Gillespie said there were '˜plenty of positives' from the 2017 season.
Last weekend’s three-wicket success at home to neighbours Bexhill meant Priory ended the campaign with three consecutive victories to secure a top half finish.
Gillespie said: “There were plenty of positives out of the season I think. The frustration was the injuries which hit us so hard at the start of the season, but we showed in the second half of the season, and the wins we put together against (third-placed) Cuckfield and (runners-up) Roffey that with a full strength side, if we can get some form and confidence, we can be a threat.”
As well as their fifth place finish in the league, Priory also reached the semi-finals of the Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup only to be beaten on a bowl out by Preston Nomads having been in a strong position when rain forced the game itself to be abandoned.
“If it hadn’t rained I think we would’ve won, and if you said a cup final and fifth, that’s certainly a decent season,” continued Gillespie. “If we had a better start we might’ve got into that top four. We showed our consistency in the second half of the season.”
Priory’s record this year, incidentally, was very similar to last year, when they also came fifth. In 2017 they won eight matches, lost seven, drew one and had two cancelled or abandoned.
In 2016 Priory won nine, lost seven, drew one and had two games cancelled or abandoned. Last year they had an extra match - a Sunday fixture against the Sussex Development XI - and ended up with 14 more points.
Priory will seek to keep the present squad together and add to it if possible over the winter, although hard-hitting batsman Jason Finch is set to return to Division Two club Mayfield, close to where he lives.
“We would like to pick up a couple of players, particularly to cover early season (education-related absences) and address the issue of Jason returning to Mayfield so there’s a bit of work to be done over the winter,” continued Gillespie. “We would like to strengthen in the seam bowling.
“We would like to try and win something if we possibly can, but it all depends on keeping everyone together and being able to strengthen. The spirit’s fantastic, everyone gets on so well.”