Talented, delightful, charismatic, smart are just some of the positive adjectives that are used to describe Test batsman Leon Johnson when in full flow at the crease but for the latter part of 2016, those descriptions have not corresponded with him having an outstanding runs aggregate.
After topping the charts of the 2015/2016 West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Professional Cricket League (PCL) Regional 4-day competition with 807 runs at an average of 57.64, the left-hand batsman managed to regain selection into the West Indies Test team after last wearing the maroon cap in January 2015 against hosts South Africa.
However, his success at the regional level was not transformed to the international arena as in the five Tests he played in 2016; he only managed to score a total of 128 runs at average of 14.2 with his highest score being 47 against Pakistan in the historic Day/Night Test in Dubai.
The Guyana Jaguars captain, who led his franchise to two successive Regional Four-Day titles won the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) Male Cricket of the year for a second time and also the Senior Regional Cricketer of the year, was quizzed on his opinion of his performances with the bat in 2016.
He responded saying, “I thought the Regional performance was very good in 2015/2016, I always feel I could have done better than the 807 runs I got, and it was the most in the season so I’m grateful for it.”
He further stated, “Internationally, I was batting out of position but I got a couple of starts and I didn’t make full use so I’m bit disappointed with my international performances but coming home now, hopefully I can replicate the form I had last season and score the volume of runs in First-Class cricket and maybe more so I can maintain a place in the regional side so I can better the performances against India and Pakistan.”
The middle-order batsman, who made his First-class debut at the age 16 in 2004 was given his Test cap ten years later and responded with a classy 66 against Bangladesh as a make-shift opener but since then has spent the majority of his nine Tests to date in the same position.
Considering his meek returns, the left-hander was asked whether the pressures of the new role or technical issues being exposed as the reason for his drop in form.
Johnson responded saying that “it is a bit of both, opening batting is very new to me and playing against international bowlers and the quality of bowlers of Pakistan and India, playing in that position will be difficult if you are not accustomed to it but to say that it is not an excuse for not doing well, I should be able to adapt to it and they are few technical areas I need to work on.”
Since returning to the Caribbean seeking to lead Guyana Jaguars to a three-peat in titles, the runs still have not come to a player of his calibre but according to the determined batsmen, he feels no way out of form despite just having two-half centuries in eight innings.
With Pakistan set to tour the Caribbean in April/May and then the regional side travels to England in August, the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) player said that he is identified technical areas to address.
“I have identified a few technical problems with West Indies batting coach Toby Radford and I have been working on those things and it makes me feel better doing it, since it has worked to an extent; I have not scored the amount of runs I wanted to in the first half of the regional tournament but at no time I felt out of form,” he revealed.
In addition, Johnson has set his sights on adding to his six One Day Internationals (ODI) since England are schedule to visit in February, by having success at the upcoming Regional 50-over tournament which is to be played in Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda from January 24 to February 18.