Hastings Priory’s cricketers insist they can stay up despite being in a perilous position at the foot of the table.
Last weekend’s defeat away to fellow strugglers Bexhill has left Priory bottom of the Sussex Premier League and 55 points adrift of safety at the midway point in the season.
Priory first team coach Ian Gillespie said: “We’re in the mire now, but the battle cry must be that we can turn it round. It’s a young side that aren’t down and out or feeling negative about it. There’s a great team resilience, drive and morale that we’re going to do it, and that’s what we’ve got to build on.
“Against that, confidence isn’t high and we’ve not got players who are consistently taking wickets or scoring runs. But the belief is still there that we can do it. There’s no-one in the dressing room saying ‘oh God, we’ve had it’.”
Gillespie believes Priory will need around 170 points from their final 10 games to be confident of avoiding the two relegation places.
“250 points is normally just about enough to stay up,” he continued. “That’s 17 points a game so we’ve got to be looking at four decent wins and 11 or 12 points out of every other game. We’ve got to be getting our 225s (batting) and a decent amount of wickets.
“If you look at it like that it’s not an impossible situation, but we’ve got to produce top four form. It’s going to be a very tough second half to the season, but we’ve got very close to winning three or four times this season and it’s not as if we’re getting hammered - until this week - so there’s evidence we can do it.
“With players like Elliot Hooper and John Morgan with the ball, we’ve got match winners, and other bowlers have chipped in with good figures. Batting-wise, Leo (Cammish) has been a sensation and when George Campbell hits his straps, we’ve got another batsman who’s capable of scoring big hundreds.
“It’s pretty desperate, but it’s not out of reach. I’ve been with Hastings Priory as a player and coach for 40 years, and I’ve never walked on the pitch thinking we can’t win a game of cricket.”
Opening bowler Henry Smith injured his side against Bexhill and is out of the trip to Brighton & Hove today (Saturday). Jake Woolley could come up from the seconds to open the batting if Harry Finch is required by Sussex.
Despite their disappointing league position, Priory have an ECB Royal London Club Championship last 16 tie at home to Roffey on Sunday, 1pm start. It’s the first time Priory have reached this stage of the national knockout competition for over a decade.
“It’s nice to have a home game, and hopefully we’ll have a good crowd and play some good cricket,” added Gillespie. “The players have done wonderfully well to get to this position and it’s a reward for them.”
New boy Dan Doram is ineligible for the Roffey clash and John Morgan is unavailable.
TODAY’S CRICKET FIXTURES
Sussex Cricket League, 1st XI Premier Division (12.30): Brighton & Hove v Hastings Priory; Horsham v Bexhill.
1st XI Division 2 (1): Crowhurst Park v Chichester Priory Park.
1st XI Division 4 (1): Rye v Crawley.
2nd XI Division 1 (1): Bexhill v Horsham; Hastings Priory v Brighton & Hove.
2nd XI Division 3 (East) (1): Crawley v Rye; Rottingdean v Crowhurst Park.
East Sussex League (1.30), Division 1: Seaford v Iden.
Division 2: Fletching v Battle; Laughton v Robertsbridge.
Division 3: Pevensey v Little Common Ramblers.
Division 4: Bexhill III v DPB.
Division 5: Ringmer II v Pett.
Division 6: Hastings Priory III v Blackboys; Iden II v Willingdon II; Udimore v Stanmer.
Division 7: Alfriston v Burwash Weald; Battle II v Linden Park IV; Robertsbridge II v Hellingly III.
Division 8: Chiddingly II v Bexhill IV; Little Common Ramblers II v Herstmonceux II.
Division 9: Forest Row II v Bexhill V; Pett II v Newick III; Sidley v Mayfield III.
Division 10: Mayfield IV v Crowhurst Park III; Rye III v Maresfield II.
Division 11: Crowhurst Park IV v Little Common Ramblers III; Robertsbridge III v Newhaven III.
Division 12: Hellingly IV v Rye IV; St Peters IV v Westfield.