During the last year Leon Johnson’s stature as Captain and batsman in West Indies Cricket has been growing rapidly and the 28-year-old is quietly confident of regaining his Test place in the near future.
“I think my chances of getting back in the West Indies side are good at the moment but nothing in life is a given so with four possible innings left in the tournament, a couple more big scores won’t do those chances any harm,” Johnson said yesterday after his team defeated the Volcanoes by six wickets on Sunday.
Johnson hit Shane Shillingford for six to end the game as the Jaguars reached 39-4 chasing 39 for victory. The eighth round win here in St Lucia extended the unbeaten streak of the defending champions to 15 matches in PCL four-day cricket as the Jaguars increased their lead to 125 points.
The Jaguars Captain has only converted four of his 30 First-Class scores over fifty but he has scored two centuries in his last three games and seems well on course to rectify that problem. In the last match Ronsford Beaton’s career best 5-43, Raymon Refier’s four-wicket haul and Johnson’ first innings 107 set up the victory inside three days to give the team a well deserved extra rest day yesterday.
Some of the players spent the day relaxing while others took the opportunity to take in the sights here in St Lucia. The team is scheduled to return home today. Johnson has played four Tests and scored two fifties including one on debut against Bangladesh here. In his last Test in South Africa in January 2015 he scored 98 runs including 54 in the first innings of that game.
Johnson was overlooked for the England and Australia home series and the ‘away’ tours to Sri Lanka and Australia since then. The technically correct left-handed has jumped to number two on the list of this season’s leading run-scorers. He has 623 runs with two hundreds and three fifties at an average of 56.63. His 18 sixes are the most by any batsman this season.
Johnson’s teammate, left-hander Vishaul Singh, who also seems very close to a West Indies call-up, is the only batsman with more runs than his Captain with 633 runs. Singh has three tons and one half-century at an average 57.54.
With two games to go Johnson is well set to become the first Captain to lead Guyana to back-to-back Regional First-Class titles joining Clive Lloyd (1975 & 83) and Roger Harper (1987 & 93) as the only Guyana Captain to win two titles. Guyana has won seven titles since 1966 when sponsored Regional First-Class cricket was introduced.
Speaking about the Jaguars’ latest win Johnson was full of praise for his team. “We had a very good game collectively. Our seam bowlers won us the game basically; taking 15 of the 20 wickets. They used the helpful conditions here in St Lucia perfectly. Securing a first innings lead of 123 was also very vital towards our push for victory,” Johnson said.
When asked what he felt were the main reasons for his success as Skipper Johnson said he felt that his success so far as Guyana’s captain was mainly due to experience.
“I have played 71 first class games now, 56 of those for Guyana and I understand the game and how it’s played in the region. Add that with good teammates who work towards team goals and you see why I am not just successful as a Captain but why the Jaguars are successful as a team,” Johnson added.
According to the Captain, Anthony Bramble was promoted because off-spinner Shane Shillingford was bowling well to the left-handers. Johnson explained that he wanted a right-hander at the crease to break the sequence of left-handers and hit with the spin.
Johnson also disclosed the right thumb of left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul got dislocated while he was fielding. “It will be assessed in a week’s time by a doctor and we will know exactly where it stands,” Johnson disclosed. The Jaguars face the Leewards Hurricanes in Antigua from March 11 after a short break.
(Taken from Kaieteur News)