Worthing CC and Hastings Priory CC’s captains give verdict after teams win promotion to Sussex Premier League
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Hastings and St Leonards Priory CC are back in the Sussex Premier League after clinching the Division 2 title.
They clinched the silver with a nervy home win over relegated Brighton. Priory finished level on points with Worthing – where they’d won a vital showdown a week earlier – but take top spot thanks to taking more points from the two games against their divisional rivals.
Hastings kipper Tom Gillespie spoke of his delight – and relief – at securing the final win and promotion.
"It should have been a lot more comfortable. Brighton are a big club and I we’ve lost to them plenty of times so we didn’t expect an easy game despite the table,” said Gillespie.
"We bowled well on a tough wicket and should have chased it three or four down but for some nerves and madness. It always felt like we’d get over the line after the bowling performance.”
Gillespie said promotion was not a big focus for the team at the start of the season, following relegation a year ago. “We honestly didn’t hugely focus on it,” he said.
"Realistically we knew with everyone there we’d have a good chance as we have Premier League experience and some top players, but it probably wasn’t until we beat West Chilts where we thought we’d have a go.”
The skipper said it had been a great squad effort to get promoted but did pick out a few for praise.
"John Morgan with ball was unbelievable. Satchi Mahendranalso made a great opening bowling partner – we bowled a lot of sides out cheaply home and away in the last two months,” Gillespie said.
"Batting-wise, Harry Scowen was quality. It wasn’t a great season to be a batter, most games were low-scoring, but he stood up often. And a shoutout to Alex Osborne for his contributions – he has now flown back to Perth.”
Now the players get a well-deserved break – but thoughts will soon turn to the job of making sure Priory stay up. "We’ll focus on surviving next year, which will be difficult – but it’s a different challenge,” said the captain. "We’ll go into loads of games as underdogs!”
Gillespie thanked scorer Judy Perkins and all the volunteers who made the season tick.
Worthing Cricket Club are back in the Sussex Premier League – and can’t wait to meet the challenge head on.
Harry Dunn’s team clinched promotion from Division 2 with a last-day win at Crowhurst Park – capping a superb season when they’ve been strong contenders from the off.
Hastings won the title but Worthing, who led the division for much of the summer, ended level on points with them.
Skipper Dunn said: “We’re completely over the moon to be promoted to the Premier League after just one season in Division 2.
"At the start of the season we sat down as a group and spoke about consolidating in this division – that was our main aim. With three relegated it would be competitive to stay up.
"To have lost only two games all season makes me so proud of the team and squad. We’ve fully deserved to go up with the performances we’ve put in.
“One of the reasons for our success was our squad mentality. There were points through the season where different people stuck their hand up and put in match-winning performances.
"One of the most memorable performances was Gavin Miles scoring 61 off 40 balls at St James when it looked like we’d be short of setting a score. But it was different people each week.
“I was happy with my season – 46 league wickets is my best. But our bowling unit as a whole were outstanding and a big reason for us finishing where we did.
"Giorgio Rigali was as reliable as ever with the new ball and often put us on the front foot. He was backed up by the other seamers, Harry Merritt-Blann with a crucial four wickets on the final day a prime example.
"The batsmen played crucial innings when needed. Overseas Dean Solway and Darryl Rebbetts got us over the line in nervous run chases. I’d like to thank Dean for his efforts after coming over from Australia, he’s been incredible, a top guy in the changing room.
“Next year, we know it’s going to be our toughest challenge yet. The premier division is full of quality club cricketers as well as ex and current pros. We can’t wait for the challenge and see no reason we can’t compete. We’ve earned the right to be there.”