REIGNING champions Guyana Jaguars face a challenge today when they begin their 2015-16 West Indies Cricket Board Professional Cricket League (PCL) Regional 4-Day title defence against Windward Islands Volcanoes at the Guyana National Stadium.The match bowls off at 09:30hrs while in the other first-round matches across the region today, Leeward Islands Hurricanes battle Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at Warner Park in Basseterre, St Kitts, and Barbados Pride, last year’s second-placed team, will host Jamaica Scorpions at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
Jaguars claimed the inaugural Headley-Weekes Trophy by topping the table, following victories in eight of their maximum 10 matches.
Their only loss came on home soil in the third round when Barbados Pride clinched a two-run victory, dismissing the Jaguars for a record low score of 66 in the second innings on the final day at the National Stadium, where they also drew with Trinidad & Tobago Red Force in the penultimate round.
Chronicle Sport caught up with the home team’s captain, Leon Johnson, during their final practice session at the Guyana National Stadium yesterday.
His side will start this season without leg-spinners Devendra Bishoo, who has been recalled to the West Indies squad currently in Sri-Lanka, and Veersammy Permaul who was ruled out with an injury.
According to Johnson: “I think Bishoo and Permaul are a big miss but we have Motie (Gudakesh), Jacobs (Steven) coming in and I think they are good enough replacements. They have been bowling well in the lead-up and once they continue their form they should do well because the pitches here tend to favour the spinners.”
However, Johnson believes his bowlers were not tested enough during the two practice matches, given that the opposition gifted them wickets at times, but admitted that at the first-class level wickets will be more difficult to get Guyana’s batting is well backed according to Johnson and has been solidified further with the return of Rajendra Chandrika from the West Indies tour of Sri Lanka.
He disclosed that he sees none of the batsmen out-of-form, but they need to convert starts into large scores.
All the teams are starting on level ground and even though they won the inaugural title, that must be a learning-curve as they progress.
The tournament will again be contested under a round-robin format, featuring 10 rounds of matches, comprising five home and five away fixtures apiece, for each of the six franchises. The team to accumulate the most points will be being declared the Champions.