3rd XI Premier Division titles seem a little bit like London buses. You wait ages for one to come along, and then another follows straight after!! After their thrilling last day success over Woodford Wells saw them claim the 2018 title, they made it back to back championships with a brilliant last day win over Harlow.
Upminster had started the day in second place, four points behind Brentwood, with the other eight teams trailing in their wake. Brentwood though lost the toss in their game with Loughton and had to field first meaning they could claim a maximum of 20 points. Upminster meanwhile also lost the toss in their home game with Harlow, but they were asked to bat first. Upminster did not get off to a good start as they lost two early wickets, but experienced heads Mark Schofield (41) and Bobby Mack (43) steadied the ship. They took Upminster towards three figures but when they fell Upminster slid to 128-8. 20 from Alex Ward and some late runs from Mark D'Cruz and Andrew Berry lifted the Upminster total to a challenging 154. Mudasser Naeem claimed 3-32 for Harlow.
Harlow made a steady start to their reply before D'Cruz, a veteran of many Upminster 3rd XI title challenges, claimed three wickets in an over and one in his next as well to reduce Harlow to 14-4. Upminster would have been forgiven for thinking they were on course for an easy victory at this stage, but Naeem followed up his earlier wickets by smashing Harlow back into the game. He made 55 from just 49 balls but when Tom Larke dismissed him Upminster sensed their moment. Larke picked up three wickets, the last of which was to trap the last Harlow man for LBW to see Upminster to a 51 run victory and claim back to back titles. D'Cruz finished with 5-38. (Full Scorecard)
Much credit for the title must go to young captain Oliver White who led his side with enthusiasm and imagination throughout the season. He was able to call on experienced campaigners such as Steve and Ant Limn, Andrew Berry, Mike Larke, Mark D'Cruz, and of course Bobby Mack, as well as bring youngsters like Will Frost, Ryan Brown, Matt McCarthy, Max Gordon and Callum Berry into the side.
Congratulations must also go to Brentwood for playing their part in a brilliant title race. They won 13 games and finished 31 points ahead of third place and a remarkable 107 points ahead of fourth place. We look forward to continuing this rivalry in the Premier Division in 2020.