By Sean Devers in Trinidad
In association with Regal, Vnet,
Noble House Seafoods & Cascadia Hotel
Guyana Jaguars will play Jamaica Scorpions tomorrow in Barbados in the first semi-final of the Regional Super50 and Skipper Leon Johnson hopes to be the first Captain since Shiv Chanderpaul 13 years ago to win a 50-over title.
Johnson has led Guyana to every First-Class championship since 2015 but the 31-year-old has never won a 50-over title.
In 1980 in Antigua Guyana won the first of its nine 50-over titles when Skipper Roy Fredericks’ 119 powered them to 101-run win against the Leewards.
But since 2005 when Guyana, led by Shiv Chanderpaul, beat Barbados in near darkness at Bourda, Guyana have not managed to cross that final hurdle.
This is Guyana’s10th semi-final since then. They have also reached the final twice (2009 & 2015) with T&T winning on both occasions.
In 2015 Sunil Narine’s 6-9 destroyed Guyana who were bowled out for 65, their only double digit total in the history of Regional 50-over Championships which began in 1976 as the Gillette Cup.
The Jaguars failed to reach the semi-Final in the 2016 & 2017 seasons and this February, in the last tournament, were knocked out by the Windwards Volcanoes in the semi-finals.
Clive Lloyd in 1983 and Roger Harper in 1993, (title was shared with the Leewards after the final was washed out at Albion) are the only Guyanese Captains to win both the First-Class and the 50-overs titles in the same year.
This year Johnson will want to join Fredericks (1980), Lloyd (1983), Milton Pydanna (1985), Harper (1993), Hooper (1998 & 2001) and Chanderpaul (2003 & 2015) as Guyana’s winning 50-over Captains.
“We did pretty well in the group stage to top the group that included Red Force and defending Champions Volcanoes. In the first game that we lost we were in a good position at 75-1 chasing 240. The team received a good dressing down and have been good since then,” said Johnson when asked to sum up Guyana’s showing in the Trinidad zone.
Johnson, arguably the best Captain in the tournament disclosed that he is pleased with the all-round effort so far.
“The bowlers have been very economical rather than looking for wickets and give away runs. They contained well and the wickets came due to the pressure they built-up and that made it easier for the batsmen when they had to chase 190-200 totals,” explained Johnson, one of 30 Guyanese to play ODI cricket.
“The Guys are pretty confidence going forward. We have a couple of days training in Barbados which we need to use well,” said Johnson who will hope to join Lloyd and Harper by winning this tournament in Barbados.
Johnson will also hope to remind the selectors of his prowess with the bat in the ‘final four’ after being dismissed three times in the 30s despite looking well set for big scores. His 99 run out in the last tournament in Antigua is the highest of his 13 fifties from 63 innings in List A cricket.
The GCC player said the conditions in Barbados are different from Trinidad but the basics of the games remain.
“Execution is our main focus,” said Johnson who has scored two half centuries from his nine ODIs.
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