Leon Johnson
Guyana Jaguars’ skipper Leon Johnson. WICB Media Photo/Ashley Allen

By Ravendra Madholall
Guyana Jaguars’ skipper Leon Johnson is very optimistic Guyana Amazon Warriors can lift the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20 trophy this year.

According to the West Indies left-hander, the Warriors have been the most consistent team since the inauguration of the tournament in 2013, and that gives him the confidence of them being the champions.

“Obviously, they have been the most consistent team since the start of the CPL and having retained the core of the players that also makes them one of the favourite teams to lift the trophy this year,” Johnson mentioned.

The action is set to bowl off on Tuesday in Trinidad and Tobago with the Warriors tackling long-time rivals Trinibago Knight Riders.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, the entire tournament which is slated to conclude September 10 also in the twin-island republic, spectators are not allowed to witness the actions.

Quizzed on if that might affect the Warriors’ motivation, Johnson stated that should not be a problem.

“I don’t think that will affect their motivation; playing in the CPL is an extra motivation for the players; they would want to go out there and do well and then try to represent West Indies; yes the crowd brings in that extra motivation especially when they are playing at the Guyana National Stadium, but with the situation now, they wouldn’t have that but again, I don’t think that would really affect them to win this year’s tournament,” Johnson, who featured in nine Tests and six one-day internationals, related.

The Warriors will have a plethora of their players from last year when they participated in the final but succumbed to Barbados Tridents by 27 runs to end their 11-match winning streak in 2019.

“As I said they retain a lot of their players from last year and again I think all the departments are covered; I also see they have a balanced team to compete,” acknowledged the 33-year-old Johnson.

guyana amazon warriors 2020

Guyana Amazon Warriors have not been able to win any of the trophies but taking part in five finals resonates well as a dominant side in the annual tournament which attracts six teams from across the Caribbean. Johnson commented that reaching the finals on so many occasions is a big achievement by itself but believes they can get things better this time once they reach the championship encounter again.

“I think they will have to play a bit better because looking back at all those losing finals, I think they didn’t bat that well, so basically they will have to bat better in the final if they get there again this year,” Johnson, who led Guyana Jaguars to five successful four-day titles, stated.

He is also predicting a competitive tournament even though players would have been off the scene for a while because of the deadly virus which has put sporting events at standstill for the past five consecutive months.

Guyana Amazon Warriors will bank heavily on some of the seasoned batsmen like Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Brandon King, Chanderpaul Hemraj, Nicolas Pooran and veteran New Zealand’s batsman Ross Taylor. The bowling will center around spinners Australian Chris Green, and South African Imran Tahir while fast-bowler and Guyanese Romario Shepherd and Keemo Paul among others will be called upon too to come to the fore.

Guyana Amazon Warriors: Imran Tahir, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Ross Taylor, Shimron Hetmyer, Chris Green, Keemo Paul, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Naveen-ul-Haq, Chandrapaul Hemraj, Kevin Sinclair, Ashmeade Nedd, Odean Smith, Anthony Bramble, Jasdeeo Singh, Kissoondath Magram.