Upminster Cricket Club captain Alan Ison tells team to remain focused with Essex League Division One title in sight

PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 August 2016

Upminster captain Alan Ison in the field. Pic: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Upminster captain Alan Ison in the field. Pic: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Leaders host struggling Billericay this weekend, but Ison believes the visitors have one of best bowling attacks in the league

Upminster captain Alan Ison admits he is quite surprised to see Billericay struggling near the bottom of the Essex League Division One table.

The two teams meet this weekend and will be battling for points for different reasons.

Billericay are eighth and just 21 points ahead of the relegation places, while leaders Upminster are looking down on the rest of the league.

Ison knows his side will go up as champions if they can achieve a few more victories, but doesn’t want his talented youngsters to lose focus ahead of Saturday’s home match.

He said: “I think Billiercay are a very good team and I’m quite surprised they are near the bottom of the table. When we played them before, they looked a very strong side and had a good bowling attack.

“I actually thought their bowling attack was one of the best in the league and although we beat them earlier in the season, that doesn’t make a difference going into this weekend’s game.

“We’re going to need to play our best cricket and hopefully we can get another victory or a winning draw.”

Shahbaz Butt certainly played one of his most impressive innings for the club last Saturday as they beat Fives & Heronians by five wickets.

Ison lost the toss and his team were made to field first, but John Curtis made a strong start with the new ball.

Upminster’s former captain picked up 4-23 and was backed up brilliantly by Shafiq Rahman (3-34) and Connor Whetstone (2-30).

Fahad Iqbal top scored with 82 for Fives, but they were all out for 194 in the 46th over.

Butt, after batting at number five the previous weekend, opened at The Paddock and scored a run-a-ball 113, with James Evans adding 43.

Upminster won with more than 10 overs to spare and five wickets in hand, although Ison was out for his third consecutive duck.

He added: “Maybe if I can get one run this week it will be all right! I’m in a pretty dire patch of form.

“At the start of the season I couldn’t stop getting runs and now I can’t buy one, so it is funny how cricket goes sometimes. But as long as we keep on winning, that’s the main thing for me.

“It has been really good to see everybody contribute this year. We have a really strong team and squad, as demonstrated at the weekend with a few people missing.

“People like James can step up from the twos without any fuss so I think the strength we have should stand us in good stead next year.”

The Essex League format changes this weekend switching from 50-overs each to the all-day cricket.

Ison believes it will probably benefit Upminster with two players returning for their clash with Billericay.

“Louis Pickering is back this week and James Aggio-Brewe is available,” said the all-rounder, who has scored four half centuries and one ton this season.

“We’re back to the all-day format so it is good to have those type of options. There isn’t too much difference between the 50-over and all-day format.

“If you bat first you get around 50 and if you are batting second you get around 45. It is probably better for us that we have changed because it means I can bowl people for longer and we have four spinners this weekend.”

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