– 34 fifties, 5 hundreds in 100 first class matches
By Brandon Corlette
Guyana Jaguars captain, Leon Johnson, played his 100th first class match in the opening round of the Cricket West Indies Regional 4-Day tournament against the Windward Islands Volcanoes. He scored his thirty-fourth half-century, but failed to convert his score into his sixth century.
This elegant, 31-year-old, left-handed batsman has been the most successful captain in the Region, having led the Guyana Jaguars to four consecutive titles.
Johnson’s teammate Vishaul Singh has played 62 first class matches and has scored eight centuries and 13 half-centuries. Singh has played 38 first class matches less than Johnson, but has three more centuries than his captain.
Leon Johnson possesses all the qualities of a good batsman, but his conversion rate has continued to fail him. Darren Bravo, who is making his return to the West Indies Team, has a better first class career than Johnson’s. Bravo has played 89 first class matches, and has scored eleven centuries and 31 half-centuries.
The other elite batsman in the West Indies Test Team, whose presence may be stalling Johnson’s selection, is Roston Chase. This Barbadian batting all-rounder has played in 70 first class matches, and has scored eight centuries and taken 110 wickets at that level.
Leeward Islands wicket-keeper/batsman Jahmar Hamilton, who bats below number four, has scored six first class centuries in 71 matches, and has been included in the West Indies Test Team on various Test tours. Hamilton is yet to be given a fair opportunity at the Test level, but he is likely to be featured in the Test Team.
Leon Johnson can perhaps not be compared with a batsman of Kraigg Brathwaite’s calibre. Brathwaite is among the top ranked West Indies Test batsmen in the ICC Test rankings (31), has played 134 first class matches, and has 21 centuries and 47 half-centuries to his credit.
Another Windies Test batsman, Sunil Ambris, has a young first class career in contrast to Johnson’s. Ambris has scored six first class centuries in only 48 matches.
It would require a dream season in the domestic circuit for Leon Johnson to return to the West Indies Test Team; but with England touring the West Indies in January 2019, will this be Johnson’s dream season?
The 50-Over Cricket World Cup is scheduled for May 2019, so Johnson may be running out of time. With an ordinary ‘List A’ career, Johnson averages a mere 27.85 in 67 matches, and has scored only one century, which came in the 2018-2019 Regional Super 50 tournament. He has thirteen half-centuries to his credit.
Johnson has represented the West Indies in nine Test matches and six One-Day Internationals. He made his Test debut in 2014, and his ODI debut in 2008. Unsurprisingly, he failed to score a century, but has three half-centuries in both tests and ODIs.
Is there any hope that the courageous Jaguars captain could make a return to the West Indies Team, or has he been permanently axed? In the England tour to the West Indies in 2019, or in the Cricket World Cup tournament to be held in England in 2019, these questions will be answered.