CPL 2020: Johnson optimistic about Guyana Amazon Warriors chances

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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 in 2020.

“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 Trinbago Knight Riders.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the entire tournament, which is slated to conclude on September 10, will be played entirely in the twin-island republic without spectators at the venues.

Flashback! Denesh Ramdin, Leon Johnson and Chris Barnwell celebrate with Sunil Narine after winning the match between Guyana Amazon Warriors and The Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel in 2014 at Providence Stadium in the Super Over on July 17 (Photo by Ashley Allen/LatinContent via Getty Images)

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 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 final 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 Regional 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 a standstill for the past five months.

Guyana Amazon Warriors will bank heavily on the experience and talent of Ross Taylor, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Brandon King and Chandrapaul Hemraj.

The bowling will center around spinners, Australian Chris Green and South African Imran Tahir, while on the faster side Guyanese pair Romario Shepherd and Keemo Paul will lead the pack.

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