Curtis 'disappointed' after a narrow loss, but urges focus before key period
PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 July 2019
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The long-serving bowler claimed 6-35 at Shenfield last weekend and scored 20, but was unable to get his team over the line
John Curtis had a memorable day for Upminster on Saturday, but was unable to inspire what would have been an excellent victory away to Shenfield.
The experienced new-ball bowler claimed an impressive 6-35 to help dismiss the hosts at Chelmsford Road for 203.
They were career-best figures for Curtis and his third six-wicket haul for the first team - and he was almost a hero with the bat.
A run-a-ball 71 by Terry Wyatt gave Upminster a fighting chance, but when he was caught it was too much for the last-wicket pair with the club's long-serving bowler out for 20 with 13 more runs required.
There will be no moping around for Ollie Peck's team, though, with a pivotal match at Shepherd Neame Essex League Division One basement boys Loughton this weekend before other key games.
"This is a big period for us," Curtis admitted, acknowledging the fixtures Upminster have in August against relegation rivals.
"We have Loughton on Saturday who are bottom so we need to beat them. Then we have other teams around us over the following two weeks, so it is make-or-break time.
"If we get some good results we should be okay, but if not we will be in trouble, so we need to play well over this period and it starts with Saturday."
After visiting Loughton at the weekend, Upminster will host Southend and then make the trip to Gidea Park & Romford - three sides in the bottom half.
While Peck's men go into these fixtures following a defeat, they were excellent for large parts at Shenfield on Saturday.
Stand-in captain Harry Jenkins won the toss and fielded first and the hosts were soon in trouble at 52-6 with Louis Pickering taking 3-41 with the new ball.
Jack Kliber's 59 alongside Tom Ballington's quickfire 67 saw the home side up to a strong total, but Curtis dismissed them to finish with an exceptional haul.
Needing 204 to win, Upminster were reeling on 26-4 and then 60-5 when Shahbaz Butt was caught for a patient 33.
Wyatt and Tom Daniels (23) got them up to the 100-mark before the latter was caught and bowled, but the former found another ally.
He put on 35 with Curtis for the ninth wicket, but it was left to the last-wicket pair and Upminster were dismissed for 191 with four balls left.
Curtis added: "It was a wet deck, so I was surprised we started on time, but we won the toss and put them in first and had them 52-6 and it was looking like we would bowl them out really cheaply.
"But fair play to Jack Kliber and Tom Ballington, they batted superbly and got a fifty each and on that wicket it was probably worth a hundred.
"We didn't do too much wrong really, the partnership was just key and 200 was a decent score on that wicket.
"It was my third six-fer for the first-team and best figures and I was pleased. I did bowl alright and I've not got as many wickets as I would have liked this year, but I was just disappointed we didn't get the win."