Eastbourne face their sternest test of the season tomorrow as they welcome unbeaten Sussex Premier League table-toppers Hastings & St. Leonards Priory to the Saffrons.
The visitors have been near-unstoppable so far this year, with a draw against fellow title-contenders Preston Nomads the only blemish on Hastings’ extremely impressive 2011 copybook.
Eastbourne have had a much more mixed bag in comparison.
Despite playing well for the majority of the season the team have still only recorded two wins and go into Saturday’s game off the back of a thorough drubbing by mid-table Roffey last weekend.
Captain Mark Tomsett though believes his side have the tools to halt the Hastings’ juggernaut.
He said, “At the start of the year I probably wouldn’t have predicted that Hastings would be at the top of the league and doing so well.
“Our plan is to go after Jason Finch. He’s a fearsome leader for them and a lot of their players look at him as the real backbone of their side.
“However, if we can go after him, put him on the backfoot and get him out of there early then we think the rest of their team could follow suit.”
However Hastings skipper John Morgan countered, “He obviously hasn’t watched us this season. If you look at our form book, Matt Machan, Adam (Maharaj-Newman) and Harry (Finch) are the guys scoring the runs, and Jason dropped himself down the order to eight or nine on Saturday. If they want to focus on Jason that’s great for us.”
It will certainly be a showcase of different bowling styles at the Saffrons on Saturday. While Eastbourne boast an impressive seam bowling attack, Hastings have used three or even four spinners to good effect this season, and Tomsett is confident that his batsmen have what it takes to deal with this threat.
He said, “The plan is to be positive from the offset. We’re going to play the percentage shots and aim to be aggressive whenever we can.
“We’re going to set the pitch to suit our needs, and in the likes of Joshua Presland, Ed Giddins and Stuart Pulford we’ve got guys who are more than capable of taking the wickets we need.”
Sussex wicket keeper Ben Brown looks set to make his second appearance of the season.
Tomsett added, “We’re striving to get continuity. We’re not going to chop and change for the sake of it.
“It will be unlucky for the batsmen who misses out because of Ben’s inclusion, but he’s a top player so hopefully they will understand and come back from it stronger.”