The Finch Factor
Hastings & St Leonards Priory 250-8; Haywards Heath 224-9
Brighton & Hove 181; Hastings & St Leonards Priory 104
The Hastings side remains with only one Premier League victory this summer after contrasting games over the past two Saturdays.
On 12th June, hosting Haywards Heath in scorching sunshine at Horntye Park, they amassed a score of 250 for eight, with Harry Finch making 103 off 111 balls. Fellow opener Tom Gillespie was bowled without scoring and Jake Woolley also went cheaply, but Finch then found an ideal partner in Dilshan De Zoysa, sharing a stand of 129 with him for the third wicket.
De Zoysa went on to score 63, and John Morgan contributed a useful 23 late on.
Horntye scorcher: Priory v Haywards Heath
CREDIT: Joe Knight
In reply, Jethro Menzies made a quick 52 for Haywards Heath, but they were pegged back by Priory’s dual spin attack of Jed O’Brien and De Zoysa who took four wickets each. There seemed enough time for the Hastings side to force victory, but the visitors dug in and salvaged a draw, ending with just one wicket in hand and 26 runs short .
A week later, in damp conditions along the coast, Priory put Brighton & Hove in to bat and restricted them to a total of 181, O’Brien taking another four wickets. Priory shuffled their batting line-up, promoting Woolley to open with Finch and Ryan Hoadley to bat at three. All three were dispatched by Brighton’s Simon Hetherton in his opening spell – Finch l.b.w for 1 – with just 11 runs on the board. And although De Zoysa (45) and Harry Scowen (38) then batted their side back into contention, the middle and late order collapsed in a heap, subsiding from 72 for 3 to 104 all out. Apart from these two, the other nine batsmen notched just six runs between them.
Cricket spectators at Horntye
CREDIT: Joe Knight
Looking at the whole season so far, the pattern of Priory performances is clear to see. When former Sussex county pro Finch gets going, not only is he capable of a high individual score, but he inspires his fellow-batsmen with the confidence to back him up. When he fails – as in each of the four defeats that Priory have suffered – the rest of the team tend to fail with him. De Zoysa has proved an honourable exception to this rule, batting consistently in the middle order whatever disasters may be happening around him, but the Sri Lankan recruit has not been able to inspire similar resilience from others.
On the bowling front O’Brien and De Zoysa have, as expected, offered the most threat, though Adam Barton, Morgan and Finch have all chipped in with useful wickets. But none can win games on their own at this level – they need the batsmen to play their part.
Next up is a home match tomorrow (Saturday) against Cuckfield, followed by a visit to the Saffrons, Eastbourne on 3rd July. Priory are currently ninth in the Premier League table with only Haywards Heath below them. These opponents are teams lying eighth and seventh respectively. Victory in at least one of the matches seems essential in order to keep Priory in contention.
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