Upminster bid to regain top spot in Buckhurst Hill showdown

Ollie Todd Upminster CC

Ollie Todd celebrates a wicket for Upminster - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Upminster captain Alan Ison is hoping to regain pole position in Hamro Foundation Essex League Division One with success at Buckhurst Hill on Saturday.

Ison's men raced to a 10-wicket derby win over Harold Wood last weekend, but were knocked off top spot by Buckhurst Hill after their 25-point win at struggling Ilford.

Only five points separate the top two with five games to go and Ison said: "Buckhurst Hill are a very good team, with some really good players. They wouldn't be top otherwise.

"But we've beaten them before and hopefully we can go and do the double, then it's the last four 50-over games.

"We're pretty full strength and will give it a good crack."

Ison saw Wood's Shahzad Hafeez win the toss at Upminster Park and choose to bat and, although Nehal Butt struck early with the new ball, the visitors reached 53-1.

Then Ollie Todd made the breakthrough and picked up a second scalp soon after, before dismissing opener Taqi Abbas (47) and Chris Bennett with successive deliveries to leave Wood 96-5.

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"The wicket was very good and they started quite well, but then had a massive collapse," added Ison.

'Toddy' bowled fantastic and got Taqi out, which was a big wicket. Terry [Wyatt] took a big catch at deep square."

Todd finished with 4-27 from his seven-over spell, with JJ Smuts then making further inroads at the other end and Ellis Pickering also having success.

JJ Smuts Upminster CC

JJ Smuts in bowling action for Upminster - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Smuts (4-67) ended the Wood innings on 118 in the 29th over, as Ison pouched his second catch, and then played the leading role with the bat as Upminster cruised to their target inside 14 overs.

The South African smacked two sixes and 14 fours to finish unbeaten on 73 from just 37 balls, as opening partner Pulkit Gupta (41 not out) gave support.

And Ison added: "JJ picked up some good wickets to get them all out for 118, but we bowled and fielded well as a unit and took our chances.

"Then it was over to the 'Dream Team!'

"They didn't bowl particularly well but it was a good convincing win and very surprising. We didn't think it would be like that, but we ended up dropping down to second, which is crazy."