Hastings Priory Cricket Club captain Tom Gillespie scored his maiden first team century to lead his team to a vital victory yesterday (Saturday).
Gillespie led from the front by making 108 at the top of the order as Priory triumphed by 169 runs at home to Sussex Premier League basement dwellers Billingshurst.
Jed O’Brien later took five wickets with the ball to go fourth in the division’s list of leading wicket-takers with 16 victims at an average of 13.06.
After winning the toss and electing to bat on another warm afternoon at Horntye Park, Priory amassed 300-4 declared in 52.4 overs.
They certainly didn’t have things all their own way early on, though. James Pooley hit 22 off 21 balls before being cleaned up by a full Andy Barr delivery having earlier survived a chance to third slip, while Gillespie had a massive life when the wicketkeeper spilled a simple catch off Will Fazakerly.
Gillespie and Josh Hahnel then put on 136 for the second wicket to put Priory in the driving seat. Overseas player Hahnel brought up his first Priory fifty and went on to make 75 from 115 balls with 11 fours and a six.
Gillespie and Elliot Hooper continued the momentum with a third wicket stand of 102 until Gillespie’s superb 125-ball innings featuring 16 fours a six was ended when he was caught by Stuart Barber off Ben Williams.
Hooper went on to make an unbeaten 60 off just 44 balls with eight fours - his highest league score of the season - and Priory declared after Jake Woolley fell for 14 off 13 deliveries.
Buoyed by having a huge total to defend, Priory proceeded to bowl Billingshurst out for 131 in 39.4 overs to complete their first league victory since the opening day of the season.
Bradley Payne (7-3-17-2) was given an opportunity with the new ball and responded by taking two wickets in three deliveries to leave Billingshurst 10-2.
Barber (38) and Tom Nightingale (28) put on 57 for the third wicket before both departed within seven runs of each other, to Adam Barton (6-1-30-1) and O’Brien (10-4-16-5) respectively.
Mike Burroughs (15) and Scott Stratton (32) added 40 the fifth wicket, but after Burroughs was pinned leg before by O’Brien, the last six wickets tumbled for a mere 17 runs.
The final five batsmen scored just three runs between them as O’Brien and fellow spinner Hooper (4.4-0-16-2) tore through the lower order. Priory moved up two places to seventh in the table as a result.
Standings (played six matches unless stated): 1 Horsham (7) 167pts, 2 Preston Nomads 126, 3 Cuckfield (7) 124, 4 Roffey 113, 5 East Grinstead 110, 6 BEXHILL 87, 7 HASTINGS PRIORY 83, 8 Brighton & Hove 71, 9 Worthing (7) 68, 10 Billingshurst 38.
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