Hastings Priory’s cricketers virtually secured their Sussex Premier League status with a five-wicket win at home to the Sussex Development XI yesterday (Sunday).
Five wickets for Jed O’Brien and a half-century from Elliot Hooper were key to Priory clinching their fifth league win of the season and fourth at Horntye Park.
The Sussex Development XI, or the Academy as they are often known, were all out for 156 after winning the toss and choosing to bat on another hot afternoon.
That decision initially looked a good one as the Academy got off to a quick start, but the innings went into decline once O’Brien ended an opening partnership of 59 by having Harry Rollings caught by Jake Woolley for 34.
Finn Hulbert had the other opener, Tom Haines (who made a hundred for Horsham against Priory earlier in the season), caught by Tom Gillespie for 24 two runs later and when O’Brien pinned Jonty Jenner lbw for four, the Academy were suddenly 66-3.
O’Brien claimed two more lbw victims with the score 93, firstly dismissing Jacob Smith for 20 and then snapping up Tim Moses first ball in the same fashion.
With O’Brien having claimed four of the first five wickets, fellow left-arm spinner Hooper then got in on the act by claiming the sixth and seventh wickets with the score 106. Nick Smith was firstly caught by Josh Hahnel for five and then Ross Whyte was snaffled by Harry Scowen for a second ball duck.
O’Brien completed his fourth five-wicket haul of the season in all competitions seven runs later by having Joseph Gilligan caught by Hooper for six.
Having lost eight wickets for 54 runs, the Academy did at least put up more resistance in the latter part of their innings.
Number 10 Will Collard was run out by Hooper for nine off 30 balls with the score 135 and last man Sam Rattle hung around for 25 deliveries for his 2 not out, enabling number five Nick Oxley to make his way to 44 before he was last man out for 44 in the 52nd over, caught by Hulbert off Bradley Payne.
O’Brien finished with 5-44 from 19 overs, Hooper 2-26 off 13, Payne 1-24 from 5.4 and Hulbert 1-20 off seven.
Priory got off to the worst possible start in reply, however, losing captain Gillespie to the second ball of the innings, bowled trying to pull the giant figure of Moses (4-1-11-1).
James Pooley and Hahnel got things back on track with a second wicket partnership of 63. On a slow pitch, the Academy turned to spin inside the first 10 overs, but Pooley and Hahnel looked comfortable, picking up easy singles and hitting the boundary when the chance arose.
All looked to be going to plan until Hahnel was adjudged lbw to Oxley (7-0-40-2) for 18. Pooley followed 18 runs later, holing out to Oxley at deep midwicket off Smith (7-1-21-2) for 44 - his best score since early May - having hit five fours and a huge slog-swept six.
When Scowen was lbw to Oxley for a third ball duck, the Academy were right back in the game at 87-4. With Hooper going along nicely, Priory looked to be getting on top again until Hulbert was lbw to Smith with the score 109.
Priory needed a 40 or so partnership to ease any nerves which might have been creeping in, and Hooper and Woolley duly provided it with an unbroken sixth wicket stand of 53 which sealed the victory.
The in-form Hooper made a classy, risk-free 61 not out off 59 balls, doing exactly what was required in the game situation. The left-hander effortlessly worked the ball around for singles and the odd two, and dispatched the bad ball clinically to the boundary.
Once the game was effectively won, Hooper started to show off his full range of shots with some deft sweeps and reverse sweeps before finishing things off in style with a glorious six over long-on. Woolley provided Hooper with the support he needed, finishing on 19 not out.
Standings (played 12 matches unless stated): 1 Horsham 251pts, 2 Cuckfield 236, 3 Roffey (11) 233, 4 BEXHILL (11) 215, 5 East Grinstead 194, 6 HASTINGS PRIORY 192, 7 Preston Nomads 167, 8 Brighton & Hove 152. 9 Billingshurst 119, 10 Worthing 100.
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