Hastings set for key basement battle

Elliot Hooper is expected to make his first Hastings Priory appearance of the season against Ifield today.
Elliot Hooper is expected to make his first Hastings Priory appearance of the season against Ifield today.

Hastings Priory Cricket Club’s first team is gearing up for a crucial Sussex League Premier Division basement battle.

Rock-bottom Priory will host second-bottom Ifield today (Saturday) in a game they sorely need to win in their quest to avoid relegation.

With a trip to third-bottom Middleton coming up next weekend, as coach Ian Gillespie has already pointed out, this really is a crucial phase of Priory’s league campaign.

Gillespie said: “They’re critical now to us. Because of the nature of the run-in we’re going to have, we’ve got to pick up points early.

“We’ve got to get probably two wins out of the next three, which is not going to be easy. We’ve got to get back in touch as quickly as possible.

“At the moment it’s too easy for teams to stop us winning and preserve their positions, particularly those around us, in the timed games.”

At the midway stage of the season, Priory are 10 points adrift of Ifield and 32 back of a Middleton side which occupies the final safe spot.

Priory have lost their last seven league matches, but their only league victory so far came in the reverse fixture against Ifield on the opening day and they produced two strong performances with the bat in last weekend’s league and cup matches.

“We just need that spark,” continued Gillespie. “The batting line-up, particularly the front four, have got good confidence out of the weekend.”

Key all-rounder Elliot Hooper is set to make his first appearance of the season having until now been on a work placement in Wiltshire. Adam Barton will hopefully be back, but fellow pace bowler Adam Pye is unavailable.

Overseas player Alastair Maasch may well not play again this summer after dislocating his shoulder in the warm-up prior to Sunday’s cup victory at Worthing.

It was the same shoulder the South Africa dislocated in the warm-up prior to the Middleton match near the start of the season and because of how weak it now is, he will probably need an operation if he wants to play cricket again.

“It’s very disappointing for both parties,” added Gillespie.

Today’s game will start at 10.30am. The plan is to play as much of the match as possible before 3pm and then take a break to watch the England football team’s World Cup quarter-final before returning to the field to finish the cricket once the football is over.

Sussex League Premier Division standings (all played 9 matches): 1 Roffey 211pts, 2 East Grinstead 206, 3 Brighton & Hove 185, 4 Horsham 183, 5 Preston Nomads 177, 6 Eastbourne 162, 7 Cuckfield 130, 8 Middleton 114, 9 Ifield 92, 10 HASTINGS PRIORY 82.

For a report on Priory’s cup win over Worthing on Sunday, click here.

For a report on Priory’s remarkable high scoring league defeat at home to Cuckfield last Saturday, click here.

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