'Surreal' for Upminster bowler Curtis to watch old team-mate in World Cup Final
PUBLISHED: 14:00 18 July 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Jimmy Neesham almost smashed New Zealand to victory against England eight years after he starred for Upminster in the 2011 season
While everyone at Upminster was delighted to witness Eoin Morgan's England triumph in the final of the World Cup on Sunday, they also spared a thought for New Zealand and in particular Jimmy Neesham.
The all-rounder made a name for himself in Havering as the club's overseas player for the 2011 campaign.
It proved a fantastic decision with Neesham scoring five half-centuries, three hundreds and taking 41 wickets to help Upminster finish third in the Essex League Division One and reach the League Cup final.
Curtis admitted it's still a surprise they didn't go up that year, he said: "I have always liked New Zealand. I think everyone does, they seem that type of country, but obviously I wanted England to win on Sunday.
"I would have been disappointed had we lost, but if I wanted anyone else to win above us it was them.
"Jimmy and I opened the bowling together in 2011 and he was unbelievable for us and the fact we didn't get promoted out of Division One that year shows how rubbish the rest of us were!
"He got three hundreds, a 99, a 95 and two seven-fers and I think he left with three weeks of the season left, but he was incredible.
"I'd say he is the best player I have ever played with or against in that league. I'm sure there have been other great players, but my personal opinion would be I don't think I have seen anyone better than him."
Eight years after playing in England, Neesham was in the country again this summer, but for the World Cup and he made a big impression.
The Auckland ace picked up five wickets against Afghanisatan, hit 97 not out in a clash with Pakistan and almost helped New Zealand win a thrilling final on Sunday.
He picked up three wickets to help dismiss England for 241 and force a Super Over which he batted in.
Despite a sensational six at the start of Jofra Archer's over, New Zealand fell agonisingly short and lost out due to boundary count after both ended on 15-0.
While the scenes across the country were jubilant - including at Upminster - Neesham's old team-mates did spare a thought for the 28-year-old.
Curtis added: "We were at the clubhouse and we probably had 20 to 30 people there, so it was a good atmosphere and it was just so surreal seeing someone in it that you played with.
"Jimmy was our overseas professional in 2011 and it was so weird to see him in the final and then to take on the Super Over at the end and nearly get them over the line."
It wasn't to be for Neesham and New Zealand, but he has plenty of time left to try and create more history on the world stage.
For Curtis and everyone at Upminster, it's no surprise to see the Black Caps all-rounder excelling for his country.
He concluded: "I think he had just played in the under-19 World Cup the winter before he joined us and I honestly believed after the season I saw him that he would go on and play for New Zealand. It was his attitude, it was unbelievable - he wasn't here for a good time, he wanted to win."