EASTBOURNE Cricket Club captain Mark Tomsett is hoping his team will be mentally tough enough to take sufficient points from their final two games to retain their Sussex Premier League status.
They face the supreme test tomorrow (Saturday) when they make the journey to top-of-the-table East Preston who are just 10 points ahead of second-placed Horsham.
Last week’s shock defeat at the hands of Brighton, when the Saffrons side crumbled to 82 all out, has brought back the threat of relegation at a time when a middle-of-the-table position was looking a real possibility.
Tomsett described his side’s performance as ‘the most disappointing since I became captain.’ He lamented, “It was not a very strong Brighton team and they were there for the taking.
“To be honest we were pretty naive. We didn’t appear to have a game plan and we certainly didn’t do ourselves justice.”
Although Tomsett himself top-scored with a battling 27, he admitted, “I played a loose shot to get out; we were like rabbits caught in the headlights.”
Eastbourne now have just two matches – against Nomads tomorrow and East Grinstead a fortnight later to escape the dreaded drop.
And the captain is under no illusions about the task that awaits his side at Preston Nomads with bonus points a key factor in the survival fight.
“If we bat first we must aim for 225 runs; if we can do that we will be halfway there.” he said. “We also know that there are two points for every wicket taken, so that is something else we must focus on.”
The big stumbling block tomorrow is likely to be Nomads paceman Carl Simon who has already taken 60 league wickets this season including seven against Eastbourne.
Tomsett had another sighting of him when he faced Simon who was playing for a Sussex League XI against MCC on Wednesday.
“Carl is their lynchpin and we have to see him off,” insisted Tomsett. “He is the best bowler in the league and we will have to be mentally tough with a strong game plan if we are going to stand up to him.
“He always makes you play; you might get a couple of balls flying round your head or you might get a few in the ribs. You have to be tough enough to mentally ride it out.
“Nomads also rely on you targeting other bowlers and that is where discipline comes in. You cannot afford to relax against anyone.”
Eastbourne will welcome back the experienced Alan Wells and his prolific 16-year-old son Dan, but there is no Callum Jackson who is playing for England U16s.
Dan Wells has already shown his mental strength in scoring a brilliant 59 at Hastings recently, earning high praise from his captain. “He is very tough mentally and everything I would be looking for in a 16-year-old.”
With Ben Brown starring for Sussex, TJ Keys will be behind the stumps, while Josh Presland returns after a back spasm.
Matt Cook remains sidelined with an ankle injury, but Tomsett is hoping for more good form from Ben Barter who bowled superbly to take three wickets against Brighton.
Tomsett believes 30 points from the last two games will be sufficient to ensure safety. “It is a very strong league this year and one thing in our favour is that the lower teams still have to play each other.
“But we cannot rely on others to drop points and I don’t want a repeat of last season when we needed Horsham to beat Cuckfield on the last day to stay up..
“We have to get the points ourselves and our batsmen must stand up and be counted.”