KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – Captain Leon Johnson has hailed the achievement of Guyana Jaguars after they wrapped up their fourth straight Regional Four-Day Championship title with two rounds to spare.
With second-placed Barbados Pride managing to earn only 7.6 points from their tame draw against Windward Islands Volcanoes at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown on Sunday it left Jaguars with an unassailable lead on 135 points.
“As you can imagine, it’s a very good feeling for us to win the title for a fourth straight year,” Johnson said.
“I am someone that delves into the history of the game – Barbados would have achieved this in the late 1970s, and Jamaica did it between 2008 and 2012.”
“We are only the third team to have achieved something like this in Windies first-class history. It is very pleasing to be part of it and to be at the helm for the fourth consecutive year of our winning this title.
“It is testament to our hard work. We have won it with two matches remaining, which is a feat in itself.”
Jaguars entered the eighth round with a healthy lead – almost 43 points clear of Pride – and earned a further 17 points following their nerve-jangling two-wicket win over Jamaica Scorpions at Sabina Park on Saturday.
The victory was their sixth in eight outings this season without defeat and Johnson praised the commitment of his players, stressing they were now focused on finishing the campaign unbeaten.
“It is also testament to the way we have played this season. As a team, we have played well,” the Test batsman said.
“I think everyone who has played has made a contribution, some more significantly than others, but I do not think there is a game that we played where someone did not put his hand up and played well for the team with bat or ball.
“We have two matches remaining – against Pride and Trinidad & Tobago Red Force – and we want to play unbeaten this season. We accomplished this two seasons ago (2015-16) and this is our aim for those two matches.”
Jaguars have been carried by strong performances from their senior players with wicketkeeper Anthony Bramble (494 runs) and Vishaul Singh (485) their leading run-scorers, and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul taking 44 wickets.
Veteran former Test batsman Shiv Chanderpaul has also been key with 333 runs from six matches, with a hundred and three half-centuries.
However, Johnson said the players’ conditioning and mental toughness had also been crucial to the winning campaign.
“There are a number of factors that contributed to our recent success. Fitness is a big part of it,” he explained.
“Our players have remained fit throughout the competition. We have not had a lot of injuries during this period, and we have not had to change a lot of players and bring in new players.”
He continued: “Players have also responded well when put under pressure. We have won a lot of games over the last four seasons, but it has not always been smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination – and at those times, when we have come under pressure, players have always found a way to dig us out of the hole.
“The weather sometimes has not always cooperated and allowed us to prepare as well as we would have liked but we have always found a way to make do with what time and facilities are available, and so this means a lot to us were able to remain this consistent over such a long period.”