Youngsters get their big chance as Eastbourne face relegation battle

Eastbourne Cricket Club will be looking to stop the rot tomorrow as they seek to return to winning ways and move clear of the Sussex Premier League’s relegation zone.

The Saffrons-based side haven’t tasted victory since beating fellow strugglers Chichester Priory Park on May 21 and have since slumped to five disappointing defeats.

While the bowlers have continued to perform, with New Zealander Joshua Presland taking four wickets at the weekend, it is with the bat Eastbourne have resoundingly failed to impress.

Saturday’s 150-run defeat by East Grinstead was the fifth consecutive match in which Eastbourne have failed to break the 140 mark, and it is only captain Mark Tomsett, 16-year-old Callum Jackson and Bradley Smith who have averaged over 20 for the season.

It has forced the selectors into drastic action to try and turn the tide, with a number of the club’s younger players set to be thrust into first team action, but Tomsett is confident they have what it takes to perform.

He said, “The likes of Dan Wells and TJ Key are going to be given their chance because they’ve been doing really well in the seconds and their confidence hasn’t been affected by the events of the past five weeks.

“The bowling line-up is still doing really well and hopefully with a few tweaks to the batting we can start to produce the sort of form we showed at the start of this season.”

Tomorrow’s opponents Horsham will certainly be no pushovers though.

They currently sit third in the Sussex Premier League table, and haven’t been beaten since their second game of the season.

Horsham were actually Eastbourne’s opponents in the opening game of 2011, in which the away side nicked a narrow two-wicket victory in a thrilling match at the Saffrons.

It was still a great effort by Eastbourne’s players though, and one that Tomsett is hoping they can repeat on Horsham’s own turf.

He said, “We know we can score runs against them because we’ve done it before.

“Horsham are certainly a very good side, but while the confidence among our batsmen is pretty low right now, the fact we’ve been successful against them already will hopefully act as inspiration.

“It’s a case of drawing a line under the past few weeks and starting again.”