A half-century from Sussex professional Harry Finch couldn’t save Hastings Priory Cricket Club from an away defeat yesterday (Saturday).
Although Finch made 64 batting at number five, Priory were beaten by six wickets away to Middleton in the Sussex Premier League.
Priory totalled 183-9 from their 50 overs after winning the toss and choosing to bat as the playing format reverted to limited overs for the final four matches of the summer.
With the honorable exception of Finch, the Priory innings, not for the first time this season, was a tale of batsmen getting starts but not going on. Nine batsmen made double figures, but three were out for 12 and three more for 13 - a score bettered by just two players.
Opening pair Joe Billings and James Pooley fell for 12 apiece, both to former Priory player Matt Cooke (9-2-33-2), to leave Priory 28-2. That later became 54-4 after Tom Gillespie and Elliot Hooper departed within a run of each other, both to Nick Smith (7-1-18-3), and both for 13.
Then came the only partnership in excess of 30 in the innings as Finch and Ryan Hoadley added 53 for the fifth wicket, almost doubling the total. Hoadley was bowled by Sean Heather (10-1-34-3) for 24 and Harry Scowen was caught off the same bowler for one just eight runs later.
Finn Hulbert became Heather’s third victim for 10 to make the score 141-7, which subsequently became 155-8 after Finch was caught off Matthew Reynolds (10-2-53-1) having struck four fours and three sixes in an 87-ball knock.
John Morgan (12 not out) and Jed O’Brien (13 off nine balls) helped earn Priory a couple more batting points, but their total later proved to be nowhere near enough.
Priory opted to open the bowling with the spin of Hooper - and hold the pace of Adam Barton back for later on - and Hooper (9-0-52-2) duly landed an early blow by bowling Will Burrows for eight with the score 17.
But decent partnerships for the next two wickets put Middleton on course for a successful chase and Gerhardt Abrahams, a South African first class cricketer, again proved to be a sharp thorn in their side.
Abrahams, who blasted 144 in June’s reverse fixture at Horntye Park, put on 46 for the second wicket with Angus Robson and then 57 for the third wicket with Heather.
Robson, a prolific runscorer for the Sussex second team this summer, hit 39 off only 34 balls before being caught by Scowen off Barton (8-0-36-1), while Heather made 25 until being caught by O’Brien off Hulbert (5-0-22-1).
Hooper trapped Jack Dawling leg before for six to leave Middleton 129-4, but that proved Priory’s last success of the afternoon.
Abrahams (75 not out off 73 balls with nine fours and two sixes) and Patrick Colvin (22 not out) saw Middleton home with an unbroken fifth wicket stand of 60 - the highest of the match - and 16 overs to spare.
Although Middleton have now jumped above them, Priory remain sixth in the table because the eight points they accrued was enough to go above Preston Nomads, who failed to pick up a single point from a heavy defeat away to leaders East Grinstead.
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 15 matches): 1 East Grinstead 364pts, 2 Roffey 345, 3 Horsham 292, 4 Cuckfield 285, 5 Middleton 241, 6 HASTINGS PRIORY 228, 7 Preston Nomads 227, 8 Brighton & Hove 211, 9 Ansty 134, 10 BEXHILL 124.