– most successful leader in WICB Professional Cricket League
By Brandon Corlette
The 31-year-old courageous Guyana Jaguars Captain, Leon Johnson is arguably the best leader currently in the Caribbean. After Jaguars suffered a defeat against the upstart Leeward Islands Hurricanes, it was only their fourth loss since the beginning of the WICB Professional Cricket League that began in 2014-2015. From the inception of the modified Regional Four-Day Tournament that features franchise players, the Leon Johnson-led Jaguars have dominated, winning all four of the championships.
In the inaugural 2014-2015 tournament, Jaguars registered eight wins in 10 matches and suffered a consolation defeat. Jaguars lost by almost the smallest of margins when Barbados scraped a victory by two runs. Guyana Jaguars finished with 148 points as the most successful team of the season, under Johnson’s captaincy. In that tournament, Johnson had a fair tournament with the bat, scoring 465 runs in 14 innings at an average of 33.21, inclusive of two half-centuries.
Johnson and his unit repeated a similar performance in the 2015-2016 season, playing 10 rounds without a defeat. Jaguars registered eight resounding wins ending the 2015-2016 season with 149 points. Captain Johnson led from the front as he played a significant role in the team’s success. In the 2015-2016 season, Johnson had an impressive batting record, scoring 807 runs in 17 innings at a staggering average of 57.64. The elegant left-handed stroke-maker had five half-centuries and two centuries, leading by example.
In the 2016-2017 season, Jaguars reigned supreme, topping the points table with 134.8 points, and winning three consecutive championships. Jaguars registered five victories, but suffered twice in the same season losing to the underdog Leeward Islands Hurricanes. Jaguars lost by four wickets in St Kitts and by 10 wickets to the same Hurricanes team who continue to haunt the dominant Guyana unit. While Jaguars continued to play a premier brand of cricket under Johnson’s captaincy, the 2016-2017 season was not a fruitful one for the Captain in terms of his personal performance. Johnson had 323 runs in 16 innings at an average of 20.18 — inclusive of two half-centuries.
The 2017-2018 season, the Guyana Jaguars were untouchable; the unit secured seven victories without a loss ending the season as champions. Jaguars finished the Four-Day season with their highest points of 166.8. It was the Jaguars fourth straight Regional Four-Day title, with players maturing and playing significant roles in the team’s success. On Johnson’s behalf, he had a good outing with the bat, but simultaneously he lacked the big scores on a regular basis. Johnson ended the season with 475 runs in 17 innings with one impressive century and three half-centuries. His batting average was on the lower side, of 27.94.
At the half-way stage of the 2018-2019 edition of the WICB Professional Cricket League, formerly known as the Regional Four-Day Tournament, Jaguars continue to be the dominant team. Under the captaincy of Johnson and the instrumental coaching of newly- selected Windies Assistant Coach Esaun Crandon, Jaguars have 85.6 points with four wins and one loss. The Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) has played a significant role in the team’s success as the entire now-Rayon Griffith-led coaching staff.
However, Hurricanes continued to upset Jaguars; in the fifth round match played at Providence, Hurricanes won by two wickets. Since the 2014-2015 season, Jaguars have only lost four matches, and three of those defeats they suffered at the hands of the Leeward Hurricanes. It is evident that Jaguars are on the verge of capturing their fifth consecutive championship under Captain Leon Johnson. His captaincy has remained on point, but his batting is on the other side; after five rounds in the 2018-2019 season, Johnson has 186 runs with one half-century at an average of 26. He will be aiming to score heavy in the remaining five rounds resuming from January 31 in Trinidad and Tobago. Guyana Jaguars will lock horns with the jaded Trinidad and Tobago Red Force team in the sixth round.