Ian Gillespie, coach of Hastings & St Leonards Priory, rightly praised the spirit of his team as the decisive factor in clinching the Sussex League Division 2 title at the end of last month and, with it,  promotion back to the Premier Division next season. The varied attack of four regular front line bowlers – John Morgan, Adam Barton, Jed O’Brien and Elliot Hooper –  combined with scoring potential throughout the batting order gave them the edge over their nearest challengers.

Elliot Hooper (front, 2nd from left) in Priory’s winning team

Nevertheless the bare statistics for the season show up Hooper’s all-round contribution as star performer –  third highest run-getter in the league with 592 runs, joint third highest wicket-taker (along with Morgan) with 41 wickets, and among the top fielders too, credited with seven catches and two run-outs. After years of  coaching as a Bedes schoolboy in the Sussex junior academy and appearances over several seasons in the county second eleven he was finally picked for the full county side for a championship match against Middlesex last month – and did not disappoint, picking up the wicket of recent Test batsman Dawid Malan and scoring 20 as a late order batsman. He was retained in the squad for Sussex’s final championship matches this week.

“Elliot has great natural ability”, Gillespie says. “He has excellent timing and a real ability to play creative innings with a great range of shots. As a bowler he has the ability to get good players out and has been a mainstay of our side for the last few seasons. We are delighted to see a talented local player get a chance to step up, especially after coming up through the ranks at Hastings and Sussex.”

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