Guyana Jaguars Captain Leon Johnson credited his team for their spirited all-round performance in round one of the 2016/17 Digicel Professional Cricket League (PCL) Regional 4-Day tournament.
Two-time defending champs Guyana blew away the Jamaica Scorpions by 181 runs to kick off their title defense campaign which commenced at the Providence National Stadium, Guyana this past weekend.
Johnson, during an exclusive with Stabroek Sport yesterday, said he was pleased with how his players handled themselves in the opening match against a good Jamaica team.
“The overall team’s performance was very good, if I’m a bit critical of anything, it would be our first innings total. After being 110/1 at one stage, we should have made a score in the region of 350,
but the bowlers were disciplined as usual, enabling them to take 20 wickets”.
While the Scorpions came pretty close to securing a draw on the final day, thanks to a grueling knock from Jermaine Blackwood, as it has been over recent times, Guyana’s bowlers left nothing to chance and operated with precision to secure the victory for the team.
Speaking about the bowling unit, led by leading wicket-taker, left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, and the upcoming Gudakesh Motie, who shared 16 wickets in the win over Jamaica, Johnson praised his bowlers for adjusting well to the surface.
“Gunner” [Permaul] and “Moto” [Motie] bowled well in partnership during both innings, and were able to get critical breakthroughs every time the Jamaicans started to form partnerships. [Keon] Joseph also did an excellent job bending his back on the docile surface, while I think [Raymon] Reifer and [Eon] Hooper were very economical.”
On paper, the Jaguars not only boast some of the best bowlers in Regional cricket, but also a star-studded batting line-up with most of the players currently representing the West Indies at various levels.
In the opening round, Johnson, veteran Shiv Chanderpaul and Vishaul Singh each weighed in with fifties. Openers, West Indies U19 skipper Shimron Hetmyer and Test batsman Rajendra Chandrika also made good starts, while all-rounder Reifer showed why he’s the premier all-rounder for Guyana with runs in the lower order.
“I’m pretty pleased with the form of the batters, [as] we managed to score 298 and 234/4 declared, but we missed out on a couple of centuries in the first innings, but nevertheless everyone in the top six got runs over the two innings,” the captain noted.
Johnson, the current West Indies Test opener also answered the big question, as to whether he contemplated opening for Guyana, given his batting position internationally.
“I have thought about opening the batting, but currently I think I could serve my country better batting in the middle-order. Unless something drastic happens to our three openers that are in the squad, then I don’t think you will see me opening,” he observed.
The skipper, last season’s leading run-scorer with over 800 runs, stated it was important for him to get off to a good start, especially after a mixed Test series against Pakistan.
“It was important for me to get a decent start, and to be able to spend time in the middle for a couple of reasons. It was important to get my confidence up after a disappointing Test series in the UAE,” the captain concluded.
In the second round which starts today, Guyana tackle the Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park in St. Kitts.