New Zealand hero Neesham has fond memories of days spent at Upminster

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 June 2020

Jimmy Neesham celebrates a wicket for Upminster during the 2011 Essex League season (Gavin Ellis/TGS)

Jimmy Neesham celebrates a wicket for Upminster during the 2011 Essex League season (Gavin Ellis/TGS)

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 Licensing restrictions

ICC World Cup finalist Jimmy Neesham looked back fondly on his time at Upminster during the club’s latest ‘Windmill End’ podcast.

New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham in batting action during the 2019 ICC World CupNew Zealand's Jimmy Neesham in batting action during the 2019 ICC World Cup

The all-rounder spent the 2011 season with the Shepherd Neame Essex League club and scored 1,082 runs at an average of 72.13, with three centuries, five fifties and best of 153 not out against Orsett.

Neesham also took 43 wickets at just over 19 runs apiece, with a best of 7-43, but his efforts proved in vain as Upminster missed out on promotion to the Premier Division behind Shenfield and champions Buckhurst Hill.

Nonetheless, the 29-year-old New Zealander admitted to having great memories of that summer, saying: “I loved it, my waistline would show how much I loved it!

“I loved the group of guys. There was an understanding that I was a work in progress as a player and I had some days where I bowled a pile of sh*t, bowling with a Dukes ball can be challenging.

New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham (right) celebrates after taking the wicket of India's Yuzvendra Chahal during the 2019 ICC World Cup semi-final at Old TraffordNew Zealand's Jimmy Neesham (right) celebrates after taking the wicket of India's Yuzvendra Chahal during the 2019 ICC World Cup semi-final at Old Trafford

“I don’t think anyone expected me to win games every game, which can some times be the bug bear of overseas pros in England – if you lose, it’s your fault no matter what you’ve done, whether you’ve scored a hundred and your team ended up losing.

“I felt there was a little bit of that pressure from outside, but as far as the actual players and people I was sharing the changing room with, I felt like I was another bloke.”

Neesham was only 20 years old when he arrived at the club, after a move for an Australian fell through.

And he felt the season taught him some important lessons at that stage of his career, which has seen him go on to play 12 Test matche, 18 T20s and 63 ODIs, including the World Cup final against England last summer.

“It was nice I got shielded from the new ball,” he added.

“I think we had some kind of strategy where I’d be next in after 10 overs or something. But if we lost two or three early wickets I’d shift down the order and say ‘good luck guys, let me know when it stops swinging’.

“I remember we were chasing 180/190 and were 130-3 and I got a bit arrogant, playing a few too many shots.

“The bowler started having a go at me, I started having a go back, and we lost one wicket, then another and another and fell about 10 short.

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“I was sitting in the bar and this old fella came up to me and said ‘well, you’ve learnt your lesson’.”

One other thing that stuck in Neesham’s mind was the different types grounds played on.

“I remember an away game where the straight boundary was about 25 yards!” said Neesham, with John Curtis, who co-hosted the podcast with James Aggio-Brewe, reminding him it was Hadleigh.

“I got a few runs and tried to whip someone through the leg side and got a leading edge that went over the bowler’s head and hit the sightscreen!

“I could’ve kicked the ball down the ground for six. A spinner came on and I was running down the wicket every ball, chip driving it straight into the fence.

“One of the great things about cricket in England is playing on grounds like that. I played one in 2014 and there was a 40 degree slope on one side. For over 200 years at the club, nobody had said ‘shall we make it flat?’ It’s the idosyncrasies.”

There was also talk of the World Cup and Curtis admitted how surreal it had felt to watch the final, having shared the new ball with Neesham at Upminster in 2011.

Neesham revealed the super-over defeat against England at Lord’s was still very painful to think about, adding: “The final, the way it went, is obviously pretty disappointing, pretty gutting.

“I wonder if anyone in the history of sport has ever been so close to such greatness and had it taken away like that. It’s something a lot of the guys are still coming to terms with.

“I think it will be something that can be a source of pride 20 years down the track, but certainly it’s still a bit fresh at the moment.”

Neesham had taken the wickets of Liam Plunkett and Jofra Archer in the penultimate over to finish with 3-43 from seven overs, before Adil Rashid and Mark Wood were run out from the last two balls of the match as the scores finished tied on 241.

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler then scored 15 from England’s super over and Neesham hit Archer’s second legitimate ball back into the Mound Stand to leave his side needing seven off four balls.

He then scored five off the next three deliveries to leave Martin Guptil needing two off the last ball but, memorably for the hosts, he was run out by Buttler as England claimed their first World Cup.

Neesham said: “It was an interesting 20 minutes, certainly excitement instead of fear when you get into a situation like that. You’re thinking ‘this could be literally the greatest achievement in sport in the history of this country. To get so close was obviously pretty galling.”

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