Hastings Priory Cricket Club coach Ian Gillespie paid tribute to the character of the team after winning promotion last weekend.
Priory beat neighbours Crowhurst Park on the final day of the season to seal the runners-up spot in Sussex Cricket League Division Two and with it an instant return to the Premier League.
Gillespie said: “Looking over the season, one of the things that’s stood out is the character the team’s showed. We’ve got a young side without too many really experienced league players, particularly experience at winning.
“We’ve had a couple of horror games where we’ve been badly beaten, but the character of the side has been fantastic and on both of those occasions we’ve come back and won really well the following week.
“I think that says a lot for the team’s spirit, the character of the team and their determination to be successful. I think that’s the biggest thing we’ll take from the season - that and the development of some of the players.
“A number of players who were very much bit part when we got relegated (last summer) have really come to the fore and made big contributions in this league - and hopefully they will take that forward into the Premier League.
We’ve had a couple of horror games where we’ve been badly beaten, but the character of the side has been fantastic and on both of those occasions we’ve come back and won really well the following week.Ian Gillespie
“People like Jed O’Brien, Adam Barton, Tom Gillespie have really come to the fore at this level. Jake Woolley as well with the bat and Lamby (Joe Lamb) have really stepped up.”
In a league where there wasn’t a single abandoned or cancelled game all season, Priory finished 13 points above third-placed Three Bridges and 12 adrift of champions Worthing after winning 11 of their 18 matches.
“Our ambition at the start of the season was to get promoted,” Gillespie continued. “We didn’t anticipate it was going to be easy, although we felt obviously we had a good shout of doing that so to fulfil that ambition is really good. We celebrated long and hard afterwards, and justifiably so.”
Key to Priory’s success has been their potent and balanced bowling attack, which contained three of the division’s top 12 wicket-takers in Jed O’Brien, Adam Barton and Elliot Hooper.
“It’s a young attack and we’ve completely revamped it, and I think it’s matured as the season’s gone on,” added Gillespie.
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