It was an up and down season for Karim Govani’s 5th XI, with an eventual finishing position of 6th in the Premier Division West table. They started the season with a five game unbeaten run and enjoyed some excellent results through the season, but as with other sides, inconsistency of availability put paid to any chance they had of challenging for promotion.
The season started in frustrating fashion with rain winning the day in the end. Mike Larke (yes, the experienced wicket keeper Mike Larke) picked up four wickets as Buckhurst Hill were restricted to 183 all out, but the rain came just before the Upminster innings was due to begin and the game was abandoned. The team got a win on the board in week 2 though, as they easily saw off Ilford at Campion. Aalok Latey claimed four wickets and Jake Eade made an unbeaten 35 as Upminster won by four wickets. Two draws followed, the first of which was a thriller with West Essex 3s. Larke’s 52 led Upminster to 182 -8 and West finished on 177-9, the captain taking four wickets in an evenly matched contest. The second consecutive draw was not as an exciting affair, Fives and Heronians 4s making 209-8, with Latey and Govani in the wickets again, before 42 from Alex Bottoms saw Upminster to 139-6.
The Team then moved towards the top of the table with a win at Shenfield. The wickets were shared around by the Upminster attack before the captain’s move to the top of the order paid dividends as he and Mike Larke made unbeaten half centuries to pilot the side to a nine wicket win. The move to limited overs games bought a first defeat of the season, as high flying South Woodford proved to strong despite half centuries for Alex Bottoms and Trey Collinge, but a week later runs from the captain and wickets from Aalok Latey helped the team to a 31 run success over Loughton 4s.
Three defeats then followed, against Oakfield Parkonians, Brentwood and Buckhurst Hill (with the side bowled out for 57 in the last of those losses) as the side suffered through poor availability. However, despite these losses, youngster Callum Berry continued to impress in his first season of senior league cricket, and spirit in the side remained high. The rot was stopped a week later at Ilford as old pals Will Bottoms (three wickets) and Joe Simpson (a half century) combined to set up an eight wicket win, but there was a defeat to West Essex a week later despite wickets from Berry and 50 from Jamie Squance.
Any lingering fears of relegation were ended in the first two weeks of August. Against Fives and Heronians a genuine team effort saw the team pick up a five wicket win, with five bowlers picking up a wicket and four of the seven batsmen making double figures. Then a week later Shenfield 4s could not raise a side meaning Upminster took the points. There was heartbreak for Jake Eade the following week in the draw with South Woodford. Eade made a wonderful 97 before being denied a century, as ten man Upminster put in a brave performance against the league high fliers. Eade’s effort did help to secure a well earned draw for Govani’s men. A poor performance against Loughton meant August ended with defeat but September started with an excellent game against Oakfield Parkonians. Eade, Dave Brown and Alex Bottoms helped Upminster battle to 155-7 before Parkonians held on for the draw at 129-9 despite two wickets apiece for Brown, Will Bottoms and Brian Martin.
The season concluded with a defeat to the champions, Brentwood 4s, but it was a memorable afternoon for Callum Berry. He ended his first senior league campaign with a brilliant unbeaten 67 and helped his side to a very competitive 194-8 before Karim Govani and Max Gordon tore through the champions’ top order. Luke Ranns and Jatin Patel held firm though and there unbroken six wicket stand took Brentwood to victory.
It all meant a very respectable finish of sixth place, in a division including many clubs’ 4th and 5th XIs. 44 players were used and captain Karim Govani played every week of the SNEL season, an excellent effort. Karim had good support from a number of “senior pros” and the season saw the development of several youngsters such as Callum Berry, Ollie Woods and Nathan Brown. It is hoped these players continue to develop and move up the sides over the next few seasons.
Updated 09:23 - 20 Sep 2018 by Paul Middlemiss