Influential bowler Jed O’Brien is likely to play for Hastings Priory against the reigning Sussex Premier League champions, despite breaking a finger on his bowling hand last weekend.
The talented spinner is expected to be part of the side which travels to Roffey tomorrow (Saturday) as Priory seek to make amends for a disappointing loss against Middleton in their last league outing.
“We hope he’s going to play,” said Priory coach Ian Gillespie. “Whilst it’s bruised and sore, he can bowl and he bowled on Tuesday night in the nets.
“It’s not a finger he uses to grip or spin the ball with. He’s going to have to be protected in the field and the batting we will review at the end of the week.
“He will probably play; it’s just a question of how he can cope with the bat. But because it’s his left hand, it’s not the power hand for his batting.”
O’Brien, who took 54 league wickets in both of the last two seasons, sustained the injury when the ball was driven back at him while bowling against Middleton.
He managed to finish his over before leaving the field and heading to hospital for an x-ray, although he still returned to bat at number 11.
“It’s a pretty standard cricketer’s break really, a hairline fracture,” continued Gillespie. “He’s raring to go and desperate to play.”
In other injury news, at the start of the week it seemed club captain Tom Gillespie was looking at the start of July for a possible return from the dislocated shoulder he sustained on the opening day of the league season.
But after a successful midweek net session, it now seems as though he will be back much sooner and he might even feature for the second team at home to Steyning tomorrow.
Fast bowler Adam Barton has now recovered from the hand injury he suffered while batting for the Sussex second team several weeks ago.
Barton was told not to play for Priory last weekend, but he’s returned to action for Sussex in a four-day match against South Africa A, which started on Wednesday.
His involvement in that match means he won’t feature for Priory tomorrow. Neither will Joe Billings, Ryan Hoadley and Harry Scowen, all of whom again have school cricket commitments with Bede’s.
“We can’t harp on about our injuries because you’ve got to be strong enough to cover, but it’s affected our game,” added Ian Gillespie. “It has made it extraordinarily difficult to settle into any consistency.”
Now a third of the way through the season, Priory remain in the final safe spot of third-from-bottom - 21 points behind the team immediately above them, Brighton & Hove, and 27 ahead of second-bottom Bexhill.
Next up is a meeting with third-placed Roffey, who have won four of their five completed league matches so far this term, and an improved batting display will be essential.
“We’ve got to show we can play with much greater resolve and determination,” said Gillespie. “We’ve got to show we can come back and start putting things right.
“A big focus will be making sure we bat through our overs, whether we’re batting first or second. Bowling-wise we’ve got to keep up what we’re doing at the moment because we’re doing well.”
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 6 matches): 1 East Grinstead 154pts, 2 Cuckfield 138, Roffey 137, 4 Horsham 127, 5 Middleton 120, 6 Preston Nomads 113, 7 Brighton & Hove 110, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 89, 9 BEXHILL 62, 10 Ansty 40.