Hastings Priory’s cricketers will clinch promotion if they win a final day local derby.
A victory at home to neighbours Crowhurst Park tomorrow (Saturday) would give Priory the second and final Sussex Cricket League Division Two promotion place.
Priory first team coach Ian Gillespie said: “I think this game was always going to be a key one when the fixtures came out.
“I think the key for us will be just to take each ball as it comes and make sure that we make each ball count, whether we’re batting or bowling, and not get too anxious about the result.”
Despite having to settle for a frustrating draw away to Findon last weekend, Priory strengthened their hold on second place because third-placed Lindfield lost at home to Ifield.
Priory are now nine points better off than Lindfield, although with fourth-placed Three Bridges only a further six points adrift, Priory can’t afford any slip-ups tomorrow.
I think the key for us will be just to take each ball as it comes and make sure that we make each ball count, whether we’re batting or bowling, and not get too anxious about the result.Ian Gillespie
Worthing, incidentally, are already promoted and need just one more point to make sure of the title having won their last six matches and eight of their last nine.
Worthing are away to St James’s Montefiore tomorrow, while Lindfield travel to Ansty and Bridges make the short trip to Ifield.
Priory were eight-wicket winners in the reverse fixture against Park at the start of July and would be delighted with a similar outcome tomorrow.
“They’ve got some good players and they could have some partnerships which could frustrate us, but we’ve got to have belief in our bowling attack,” continued Gillespie.
“Our bowling attack’s functioning really well. Adam Barton and John Morgan bowled genuinely quickly on Saturday, and Finn (Hulbert) is right up there with them.
“As for the spin bowling, Jed (O’Brien) has got 50 league wickets and Elliot (Hooper) on Saturday probably bowled as well as he has all year.
“We’ve got good balance to our bowling attack and we’ve got to have faith in the bowlers to bowl them out either for a total we can chase or obviously to win the game.
“I think batting-wise again it will be just about accepting the fact there will be times when we’re finding it not so easy to score, but we’ve got plenty of batsmen who have scored plenty of runs this season.”
Gillespie added: “They’ve got to bat with focus and intensity, and make sure either we set the total by treating each ball on its merit or chase down the total and not get flustered as we have once or twice.”
For bottom-of-the-table Park it will be a case of trying to end a tough season on a high note. Already relegated Park have lost 15 of their 17 matches so far, but were only narrowly beaten by Ansty in their final home game last weekend.
Park captain Paul Brookes said: “For us it’s still nice to play a local derby. When we first played them at home we didn’t give our best performance, and they well and truly beat us.
“Although we’re obviously relegated, we will still try and give a good performance. We will be trying hard because they are local rivals and perhaps we can put one over them; we’re hopeful of getting a second win. Funny things happen in cricket and you can never predict what’s going to happen.”
Priory have won seven and drawn one of their eight home league matches so far this summer, but Park are no strangers to playing at Horntye even though this will be their first ever league game there.
“It’s been a bit of a fortress for them, but we’ve played a number of semi-finals and finals there, and we do like playing at Horntye,” added Brookes. “We do know how the wicket plays and we’re looking forward to it.”
For Priory, Harry Finch’s availability will depend on his Sussex commitments, while for Park, Nick Taylor has gone back to university so Fox Parker will take over behind the stumps. Play will start at 12noon.
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