What will Upminster achieve this year?

Alex Bottoms gives his predictions for the 2017 campaign

Upminster CC 2017 Season Preview

Kit bags are being dragged down from the attic, Thomo has ordered the latest kit and original source mint shower gel has been Boots best seller for the last week, which can only mean one thing – the 2017 cricket season is almost upon us. Here is a preview of how all XIs are shaping up for the season ahead. 

1st XI 
2016 league position: 1st (promoted) 
One to watch 2017: Julian Whetstone. 
After a fantastic 2016 season and a very deserved promotion, the future is looking very bright for the 1st XI. Six of last year’s squad were under 21, but all made good contributions in a very competitive division 1. These players will all want to give more in 2017 and I feel they will all be match winners at some point throughout the season. 
Balance is key in any team, and the experience of John Curtis, Shafiq Rahman and Shabaz Butt will be crucial for these youngsters to learn from. Matthew Tigg will replace Alan Ison as captain this year and I have every faith in Matthew keeping it tight with ball in hand and ensuring the team remains in the promised land of Premier Division cricket. 
League prediction: 6th 
2nd XI 
2016 league positon: 5th 
One to watch 2017: James Evans 
2016 was a mixed year for the Scooby doo’s, but as always there was never a dull moment. After securing their place in the 2nd XI premier division and a celebratory face paint, the 2s have been working hard over the winter to improve on last year. 
Nicky Ison has stepped down as captain in search of more 1st team action under good friend Matt Tigg, so UCC stalwart Oliver Peck has taken the reigns. Hopefully the chairman will improve availability, which was often a problem last year, to help with more consistent performances. A greater competition for 1st XI places should also help this year. 
League prediction: 4th 
3rd XI 
2016 league position: 3rd 
One to watch 2017: Oliver White 
After the great escape of 2015 there was much more to celebrate for the 3s last year. For a start Mark D’Cruz was injured for the start of the season so his captaincy couldn’t do too much damage. There were good performances from youngsters Alfie James and Arun Kullar with the bat supported by Andrew Berry with the ball. 
As Kullar and James look to push up the XIs, the likes of baby Oliver will be knocking on the door, pestering big brother and new captain Rob White for a call up while trying to avoid Gonzo all afternoon. Gonzo may have competition with Nathan Woods returning to regular action. 
League prediction: 4th 
4th XI 
2016 league position: 9th (relegated)  
One to watch 2017: Nathan Bright 
As with most other teams, the 4th XI are under new captaincy this year, with the diplomatic candidate Josh Lamont taking over from Steve Limn. Josh will be looking to bounce back into the 3rd XI division 1 at first time of asking with a conservative regime.  
With Colts providing most of the runs and wickets last year, having these players a year older will be a positive, as they all look to make more meaningful contributions. Karim Govani will continue to churn out wickets from one end. 
League prediction: 2nd  
5th XI 
2016 league position: 2nd 
One to watch 2017: Mark Hortop 
Having only just missed out on promotion last year the 5s will be looking for promotion once more, this time under the leadership of Scott Fisher. Campion has had a lot of pre-season preparation, and Mark Hortop is the leanest he’s been since he was sweet talking the ladies on the beaches of Cape Town, so expect big things from him this year! 
Expect captain Fisher to lead the way with bat and ball, with support from promising youngsters such as the better Pickering, The Brown brothers and Jamie Squance all looking to push on this year.  
League prediction: 1st 
6th XI 
2016 league position: 6th 
One to watch 2017: Jack Carter 
Paul Scott is the only returning captain of 2017, and I would like to thank him for his many years of service in the 6th XI. Many players in higher teams, including the 1st XI, made their senior debut under his captaincy and far too often this fact is forgotten. 
Predicting the 6th XI is about as precise as predicting what state Joe Simpson will be in on a Saturday morning, but with strength throughout the club I have a good feeling about this year. You can be sure however that it is always a good day out in the 6s. 
League prediction: somewhere between 1st and 10th