By Ravi Madholall
Guyana Jaguars completed a comprehensive six-wicket win over arch-rivals Trinidad and Tobago Red Force inside three days at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence on Saturday and in the process to retain the four-day title for five years in succession. It was the tenth and final round for the Guyana Franchise who carted off their seventh victory and attained a whopping 154.2 points.
However, their closet challengers Leeward Islands Hurricanes emerged victorious in their penultimate-round assignment leaving the trophy honors improbably still open. They have to get a maximum of 25 points to catch up Guyana Jaguars in their final encounter against Barbados Pride.
Apart from Guyana Jaguars prestigious trophy, by extension the cricketing fraternity must be indebted to their skipper Leon Johnson who has been at the helm for the five triumphant years and historically places himself in the regional history book to be the only leader to win five straight titles. Guyana of course has been the second country to win the championships for five consecutive years joining Jamaica in this cricket extravaganza. Regional four-day cricket was inaugurated in 1964.
What had transpired at the Stadium for the three stipulated days once again was a manifestation of Red Force’s fluctuating fortunes have ended up last on the points standing in this year’s sixth-team Professional Cricket League competition.
Even though they defeated Guyana Jaguars on home soil in an earlier round, they failed in every disciplines of their game on this occasion. They began rather inauspiciously squandering the opportunity to bat first and they were routed for a paltry 120. Fast-bowler Romario Shepherd tormented them by claiming five wickets for 24 runs.
When Guyana Jaguars batted for the first time, they too did not have a good batting momentum only scoring 165 while the visitors responded with a greater sense of determination to make 206 leaving Guyana Jaguars to get 162.
They began their chase rather precariously losing two quick wickets but Johnson came to the fore with a defiant and responsible 76.
Opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul also batted with typical resilience and contributed a valuable, unbeaten 43. Chanderpaul, perhaps not only gleeful with his team’s dominance and achievement, but his personal accomplishment which was also admirable having chalked up over 500 runs this season to be Guyana Jaguars’ leading run-scorer.
Shepherd ended with 37 wickets while left-arm orthodox spinner Veerasammy Permaul accounted for 44 victims. Wicketkeeper/batsman Anthony Bramble was also instrumental with both bat and gloves. He scored back-to-back centuries and had 43 dismissals behind the stumps. Meanwhile, other successful captains for Guyana were Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyds, Roger Harper and Carl Hooper.
Recently, Johnson was awarded with one of the most prestigious awards in Guyanese history. Johnson was bestowed with the Golden Arrow of Achievement from His Excellency President David Granger.
The Golden Arrow of Achievement (A.A.) is the fourth highest award in the Order of Service of Guyana. The thirty-one-year-old Johnson has represented Windies in nine tests and six one-day internationals. The elegant left-handed batsman began his regional first-class career as a 16-year-old in 2004 against Leeward Islands at Enmore, Guyana.