East Grinstead 201 for 8; Hastings & St Leonards Priory 192

After victory over Mayfield by one wicket in an opening friendly last month, then a 9-run win over Hayward’s Heath on 1st August in the first August Cup match (the special Sussex League competition for the truncated season), Hastings & St Leonards Priory cricketers contested another nail-biter last Saturday. This time they came up just 9 runs short of East Grinstead’s total of 201 in a second 40-over August Cup tie at Horntye.

In sweltering 30-degree temperatures, the home side lost the toss and were condemned to a hot, energy-sapping session in the field. However, the current Priory team has made great strides over the last couple of seasons, and become a bowling and fielding unit that operates with purpose. 

Hastings Priory in the field last Saturday
PICTURE: Felix Sullivan

Adam Barton (2-50), one of two bowlers in the line-up with first-class Sussex county experience, and Adam Pye, who looks to have put his injuries behind him, bowled aggressively with good pace on a slow-ish wicket. Pye was particularly unlucky not to take early wickets. Evergreen pace bowler John Morgan also played his part. 

However, it was the combined spin attack of Elliot Hooper, the second county bowler, and of Jed O’Brien which did most to hold the visitors in check. O’Brien bowled his eight overs for just 16 runs while Hooper took three wickets in the final over to finish with five wickets for 42. They were ably supported by first team newcomer Adam Page (1-43) and some high quality fielding. 

East Grinstead’s eventual total of 201 for 8 was achieved thanks largely to a magnificent 77 from former Priory wicketkeeper Leo Cammish.

In reply, Priory captain Tom Gillespie and current wicketkeeper Joe Billings put on 54 for the first wicket in good time. Jake Woolley and Elliot Hooper (29) both enjoyed useful partnerships with the brilliant Billings and, when he finally fell for a superb 77 (precisely duplicating Cammish’s knock), Priory were on 128-3 with almost half the overs remaining – surely on course for home victory. Unfortunately the resilience that the Hastings side had shown in the fielding has yet to be established throughout the batting. The middle order succumbed to growing pressure despite a useful 28 from competitive debutant Will Hutchins. Barton, who has been developing a reputation as a finisher, was ninth to fall, followed instantly by the final wicket, leaving Priory agonisingly short.

Captain Tom Gillespie paid tribute to the bowlers and fielding unit for their efforts in the extreme heat. However, he said the result was really disappointing after the team had played so well for three quarters of the game.

Priory travel to Cuckfield next week for the next round of August Cup matches before returning to Horntye a week later for a derby with Eastbourne. They are likely to be two bowlers down with O’Brien working and Morgan struggling with family commitments, but coach Ian Gillespie emphasised the positives: “Whilst defeat is always disappointing, the short season that has no consequence in terms of promotion or relegation gives us a chance to run the bench, especially when established first teamers are unavailable. We have some really exciting youngsters in the twos to call on, and we can give them some valuable experience of the demands of Premier League cricket.”

There are two groups of teams competing at the top level of the county-wide competition – for current standings in Priory’s group, see the table below. The top two teams from each group will qualify for a knock-out semifinal at the beginning of September.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this article. The future of our volunteer led, non-profit publication would be far more secure with the aid of a small donation. You can also support local journalism by becoming a friend of HIP. It only takes a minute and we would be very grateful.