Priory sink title hopefuls in thriller

Hastings Priory all-rounder Finn Hulbert bowling to Roffey opening batsman Theodore Rivers. Pictures by Simon Newstead
Hastings Priory all-rounder Finn Hulbert bowling to Roffey opening batsman Theodore Rivers. Pictures by Simon Newstead

A Hastings Priory Cricket Club side missing several key players pulled off a brilliant victory over title-chasing opposition yesterday (Saturday).

Priory won a thrilling Sussex Premier League encounter at home to three-times reigning champions Roffey by two wickets with two balls to spare, despite being without the likes of Adam Barton, Leo Cammish, Harry Finch and Elliot Hooper.

Roffey number three Jibran Khan on his way to a run-a-ball 115.

Roffey number three Jibran Khan on his way to a run-a-ball 115.

Roffey amassed 259-9 from their 50 overs after winning the toss and choosing to bat thanks largely to a splendid century from number three Jibran Khan.

Although Finn Hulbert (9-0-41-3) pinned key man Rohit Jagota leg before for five with the score 16, Roffey’s second wicket pair proceded to score fairly freely against the seamers.

The introduction of spinners Jed O’Brien (9-1-37-3) and Jack Coleman (7-0-43-2) slowed the run rate, and Coleman dismissed Rivers leg before for 28 with the score 71. O’Brien then got Ben Manenti to sky one to Alfie Lloyd-Dyke at mid-off 11 runs later.

After a break for rain, four of Roffey’s next five batsmen scored between 18 and 25 in support of Khan. Matt Davies made 18 until being stumped by Joe Billings off Coleman to leave Roffey 116-4 before Khan put on 56 with Usman Khan, who was caught by Coleman off James Pooley (7-0-41-1) for 22.

Jibran Khan went on to complete his hundred before eventually being caught behind by Billings off Hulbert for a run-a-ball 115 to make the score 220-6. Hulbert then had Josh Fleming stumped by Billings second ball.

George Fleming’s unbeaten 21 off 15 balls took Roffey past the 250 mark, although O’Brien picked up two more wickets at the end to match Hulbert’s three-wicket haul.

Priory got off to a very good start in reply with an opening stand of 82 between James Pooley and Jason Finch only for both men to depart within three runs of each other, firstly Pooley for 43 off 48 balls and then Finch for 41 off 51.

Tom Gillespie (13) and Ryan Hoadley (11) got starts, but Priory slid from 151-3 to 161-6, which meant they needed a further 99 runs with only four wickets still standing.

They possess a deep batting line-up, though, and a seventh wicket partnership of 44 between Billings and Harry Scowen (25 off 28 balls) raised hopes.

Number three Billings went on to make a season’s best 70 off 83 balls until being eighth man out with the score 235, bowled by Luke Barnard (10-0-51-3).

Numbers nine and 10, John Morgan and O’Brien, did the rest with a fine unbroken partnership of 26, Morgan finishing unbeaten on 23 from the same number of deliveries and O’Brien 11 not out from eight balls.

Rivers and Manenti, who bagged two wickets each, were the other successful bowlers for a Roffey side whose title hopes now look slim with two matches remaining.

Sussex Premier League standings (all played 16 matches): 1 East Grinstead 394pts, 2 Roffey 359, 3 Horsham 322, 4 Cuckfield 315, 5 Preston Nomads 257, 6 HASTINGS PRIORY 256, 7 Middleton 247, 8 Brighton & Hove 220, 9 Ansty 146, 10 BEXHILL 134.