Howzat: Upminster CC captain Alan Ison wants to build
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 May 2016
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Club seeking more success in Essex League
New Upminster captain Alan Ison wants to continue the good work done at the club by previous skippers Ollie Peck and immediate predecessor John Curtis.
Former Hall Mead pupil Ison, 25, takes over the reins of his home-town club after helping them escape the drop with a last-day win over Hutton last season.
And he was quick to pay tribute to Curtis, saying: “Hats off to John Curtis for the job he did last year. It was a tough year, with players missing and leaving, but he kept us up. Going down to Division Two would have been a big rebuilding job.
“Ollie had been captain for 10 years and John took it over and in my experience with Upminster he did a great job in the toughest year I’ve known.
“All credit to John. I tried to help him out with on-field stuff last year and it made me want to do it and give it a go myself.”
Ison, a destructive batsman and strike bowler, was a member of the Essex Academy as a youngster and became a key figure in the Upminster side that climbed to the Premier Division under Peck.
He went close to scoring 1,000 league runs in 2009 (930) and 2010 (980), having hit 206 in an Essex Sunday League match against Harlow in 2008.
And he admits to a sense of pride at being asked to lead the club, adding: “It’s a good feeling. I’ve been here since I was 16 years old.
“I think I know the game well. I played Essex 2nd XI with Grant Fowler a few years ago and got to pick his brains.
“I’m quite excited and hopefully we will do well. The challenge is to keep a settled side. John used 28 players last year. I want a stable team that enjoys playing the game.”
Ison expects to give youngsters Frank Hazel and Will Chuter added responsibility, batting up the order and with the new ball respectively, and has recruited brothers Connor and Julian Whetstone from Hutton.
But he will still be able to call upon experienced heads such as Curtis, Shafiq Rahman and vice-captain Harry Jenkins, to name a few.
He added: “I hope we’re nearer the top end of the table. Top four with more youngsters in the team would be very nice, but so would being safe by the last game of the year.
“We’ve got to be realistic. Mid-table would be better (than last season) and top four would be a lot better.
“We’ve got a good team on paper, if I lead the team well and we perform well.
“I want progress. I’m bringing youngsters through. I was given the chance myself and it’s a massive thing for us to do, with no paid players.”
Overseas batsman Shahbaz Butt is set to return to the Upminster ranks, having only managed five appearances last season.
Butt was a regular feature in the previous two summers and Ison is delighted to have him back, adding: “Having Shabzback will be a massive help. We didn’t lose a game when he came back late last season. There was a buzz when he came back.
“But like I said, hats off to John. I was banned myself for two weeks for mouthing off, which was stupid and didn’t help John at all.
“I felt bad to be missing out, but we’ve got to move forward and I’m looking forward to this season.”