GEORGETOWN – Defending Regional Four-Day Champions, Guyana Jaguars will begin their campaign for a fifth consecutive title today, when they face Windward Island Volcanoes at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia.
The Jaguars are riding high on a 10-game unbeaten Streak having not lost a match since the final game of the 2016/17 season when they were beaten by the Leeward Islands Hurricanes in St Kitts.
They will be without Windies players Shimron Hetymer, Devendra Bishoo, Kemo Paul, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Raymon Reifer and Sherfane Rutherford.
Ahead of the match, Captain Leon Johnson said the absence of the Windies players will give their replacements a chance to prove themselves.
“I can’t say how badly they would be missed but while we know they are obviously talented and would bring quality to the table, it gives an opportunity to the guys who have been selected, to play well and make it hard for the selectors when senior players become available,” said Johnson, who led Guyana for the first time in 2013 against the Windwards when Skipper Veerasammy Permaul was on West Indies duty.
“I am quietly confident going into this season as defending Champions with a team which has dominated Regional four-day for the last four seasons but everybody starts at zero …all the teams are on zero … all batters and bowlers are on zero.
“Come Thursday (today) we can’t take it for granted that we could just turn up and win games. We have to go through a process and we have to be patient as we usually are and play consistent cricket which has been our strength,” Johnson said.
Cricket Guyana Inc. (CGI) was forced to call off the eight-team three-day franchise League and both of the Jaguars’ practice matches due to rain and the unavailability of grounds.
“I think the two practice matches went well but I won’t say I was totally satisfied since a couple of the batters selected did not get enough time in the middle because the matches were affected by rain,” Johnson said.
Nevertheless he is hoping to capitalise on his performance in the final practice session in which he scored a brilliant century, when he faces his opponents in St Lucia.
“It was nice to score a hundred and it’s good for my confidence going into the tournament,” said Johnson, who plays his 100th First-Class match and 80th for Guyana in today’s match.
Johnson played the last of his nine Tests in 2016, and he has led his team in 42 games, winning 27 times and losing only five.
In the only other first round match, the Barbados Pride hosts Leeward Islands Hurricanes at the Three Ws Oval.