By Sean Devers
In glorious sunshine and watched by a vocal crowd of mostly DCC supporters, Leon Johnson stroked a classy 104 to lead GCC to a six wicket win against DCC at Bourda in yesterday’s Georgetown Cricket Association (GCA) Queensway 50-over cricket final.
The 24-year-old Johnson faced 110 balls and hit eight fours and a six in his first century since his unbeaten 105 for Demerara against Essequibo last year November at Anna Regina as GCC reached 227-4 in 41.2 overs replying to DCC’s 218 all out in 47.2 overs.
The 23-year-old Gajanand Singh, with two fifties in 10 First-Class matches, kept DCC in the fight with an important 122 from 127 balls and 10 fours and two sixes before he was last out for the Queenstown side who were awarded eight extra runs due to the slow overrate by GCC.
Johnson, who has one fifty from three ODIs and seven half-centuries from 26 First-Class games has under achieved in recent times for Guyana with the bat, but yesterday the elegant left-hander showed why he is considered one of the most talented and attractive batsmen in the region with a magnificent array of scintillating shots to take the Man-of-the-Match award and steer GCC, who were at one stage 32-2, to victory.
After Paul Wintz removed Robin Bacchus for a duck and off-spinner Denis Squires, who finished with 3-48 from 10 overs, trapped Ricardo Jadunauth leg before for 11, Johnson and fellow National Vishal Singh, who finished unbeaten on 52 from 94 balls with a solitary boundary, added 148 for the third wicket to set up their team’s victory.
Johnson fine-swept left-arm spinner Totaram Bishun for four to reach his fifty and delighted the crowd with superb stroke-play and intelligent batting on a good track and fast outfield before he was stumped off a leg-side wide from Squires at 179-3.
Jeetendra Sookdeo was then leg before to Squires at 185-4 but Gavin Singh, one of six left-handers in the GCC top order, batted positively towards the end as he and Vishal Singh put together 42 in their unfinished fifth wicket stand as the dogged Vishal Singh was content to play the supporting role.
Earlier, DCC opted to bat first and without West Indies t20 players Derwin Christian and Chris Barnwell who left yesterday for the West Indies camp in Barbados yesterday, slipped to 14-2 when Andrew Lyght Junior (1) was removed by pacer Kevin Ogle and Trevon Griffith (8) was caught behind off pacer Joshua Wade.
Gajanand Singh who was traveling back and forth from the city to Bartica since Friday to participate in the semi and final and the T20 cricket Festival for New Line Cavaliers in Bartica, soon saw Jamal Hinckson (9) top edge a pull off Ogle at 40-3 and a run later DCC were in trouble when Skipper Travis Dowlin departed for a duck.
Without their West Indies players, Dowlin, who stroked a responsible unbeaten 74 in the semi-final against Malteenoes Sports Club on Saturday, was a key player in DCC’s effort yesterday and when a shocking leg before decision when he clearly edged the ball onto his pad from Wade, sent the former Test player packing, GCC were large and in charge in their own backyard.
Paul Wintz (11), Omesh Dhanram (13), Denver Greaves (1) and Squires (10) all fell in quick succession and DCC were in tatters at 115-8.
But pacer Carlyle Bolton (16) played an excellent supporting role for Singh, who even though he showed signs of tiredness, attacked the bowling with conviction as the pair put together 74 for the ninth wicket before Bolton was bowled by Sookdeo at 189-9.
Singh eventually drilled a catch to long-off as Sookdeo (2-7) ended the innings.
In a competition used to help develop fast bowlers Wade, adjudged the best pacer in the tournament, took 2-36 while his new ball partner Ogle had 2-33 as the pair shared 16 wickets between then from four matches.
Teenage left-arm spinner Raj Nanan took 2-53 to finish the most wickets in the tournament.
At the presentation of the impressively run tournament which also included four second division teams, owner of Queensway Mohamed Qualander said the reason for his company’s sponsorship of the competition was to provide an avenue for the players to showcase their talent.
“At a time when cricket in Guyana and the West Indies is at a very low ebb, I hope players here can go forward from this competition and help to recapture where we were in the cricketing world nationally, Regionally and Internationally,” Qualander told the gathering.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth in home appliances were presented to the outstanding performers in the competition and Qualander promised that next year’s tournament will be bigger and better.
This was easily the most prizes awarded in any local competition in addition to trophies and medals and GCA President Roger Harper thanked the sponsors for their support of Georgetown’s cricket and was high in praise for GCC for making their venue available for the final.
Harper, a former West Indies Test player said it was great to see the reemergence of Johnson who he described a ‘one of the most talented sons of Georgetown’ cricket’ adding that he hoped that Johnson ton would be the motivation for his return to the West Indies team.
Harper also lauded the century from Gajanand Singh and said he was pleased to see two ‘high-class centuries’ being scored in the final.
“The pitch here was very good and this venue always brings out the best in the players…We thank GCC for the use if it ground and hope to have it available for more GCA cricket in the future,” Harper added.
A Stove, Freezer, Micro waves, DVD Players, Flat screen TVs, Carpets and electric Kettles were among the prizes presented yesterday, while Wade collected a Carpet, a pair of bowling boots and $20,000 for emerging as the tournament’s best fast bowler.
Kaieteur News also received an award for the best coverage of the competition.
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