September 28, 2016

Johnson buoyed by prospects of WI recall

Leon Johnson acknowledges the applause after one of his two Test fifties

Leon Johnson acknowledges the applause after one of his two Test fifties

– “It’s about getting big scores and being able to contribute to the team’s success”

By Akeem Greene

Following a successful season in the West Indies Cricket Board’s (WICB) Professional Cricket League (PCL) Four-day competition, Guyana Jaguars skipper Leon Johnson is of the view that his stellar performances could provide a pathway back into the regional side.

Johnson, during an exclusive interview with this publication, said he is wary of the fact that to cement to a place in the side he needs to produce big scores.

“It’s about getting bigger scores actually; I have managed to get four half-centuries in the four Tests I have played and some thirties and forties, but probably a the Test level those kind of scores won’t cut it, but it’s about getting  the opportunity and then able to get big scores and contribute towards the team’s success,” Johnson explained.

After a solid First-Class season, Leon Johnson is looking to add to his four Test caps

After a solid First-Class season, Leon Johnson is looking to add to his four Test caps

The current policy of the WICB and its selection panel is that players should be engaged in domestic competitions and performances will be recognised.

In the just concluded regional tournament, Johnson topped the batting charts with 807 runs from 10 matches at an average of 57.64, and a top score of 111 not out. If the selectors hold true to the policy outlined above, then the elegant left-hander could be guaranteed a spot in the Test side.

Though his stats this season are commendable, Johnson was dismissed twice in the 90s and his overall conversion rate has always set tongues wagging, especially given his enormous talent.

After playing 73 First-Class matches, he has scored 28 half-centuries, but only four centuries since making his debut for Guyana in 2004.

In recognising the need to improve on his conversion rate, Johnson said, “It’s mainly down to concentration, once I’m able to concentrate for longer periods I will be able to convert those half-centuries into centuries; most of the times after I get the half-century and then get out, it’s probably a rash shot as I get too relaxed at the crease.”

After a slow start to the 2015/2016 season, the batsman began churning out the runs to put his team a top of the table. He revealed that a lot of hard work went into the successful outing.

The 28-year-old said, “It’s just down to hard work, the first couple of games, I had 31 runs from three innings and I had a little reflection on that and it was the following eight games I was able to put it right and convert those centuries into half-centuries.”

He further stated, “I was disappointed  to get out  twice in the 90s so I could have gone on to finish with four hundreds this season, but I’m grateful and very thankful; it could have been a lot worse, but [also] it still could have been better.”

The batsman, who led the Guyana Jaguars to successive titles in the Four-day competition, believes the hard work they put in was the reason for them becoming champions yet again.

“It’s actually a good feeling; we put in a lot of work leading up to the tournament as well. Obviously, it’s always good to plan well, but the main thing comes down to executing well and we executed well,” the skipper said.

He added, “We had a couple of hiccups, but we came out with a draw [in one of the games], so it was very pleasing to win at the end of the tournament.”

Johnson, who averages nearly 40 in his four Tests, and gathered scores of 54 and 44 in his last Test against South Africa in Cape Town last January, was handed a retainer contract by the West Indies Cricket Board.

The upcoming Tri-Nation series between the West Indies, Australia and South Africa in June, followed by India, who will travel to the Caribbean in July to play a four-Test series, could provide the perfect opportunity for Johnson to showcase his  immense talent at the international level once again. (akeemg@guyanatimesgy.com)

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