First-Class cricket is back, but Leon Johnson feels five matches not enough
By Akeem Greene
This season, Cricket West Indies (CWI), Four-Day Championship is reduced to just five rounds, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2014 when CWI introduced the Professional Cricket League (PCL), the Championship was 10 rounds, with the franchise playing an equal number of matches home and away.
Leon Johnson, the most successful captain in the PCL era with five titles in six seasons, is of the strong opinion that if CWI is aiming to select their best international team, a five-round tournament is not ideal.
“My personal concern is the shortness of the tournament, only five games this year because of COVID, but I personally don’t feel it is enough cricket to select. You want to select your best international players and I think five First-Class games is not enough for that,” the Guyana Harpy Eagles captain stated at Tuesday’s virtual pre-match briefing.
The immediate season, prior to the PCL, was only six matches per team, and the Championship had seven teams, the addition being Combined Campuses and Colleges.
New CWI Selector Ramnaresh Sarwan, in an exclusive interview with News Room Sport, said the Panel would be taking keen note of performances in the Championship, as they look to find the next generation of West Indies cricketers.
Eagles, in particular, have some players who are potentially close to re-selection or a maiden call-up, and Johnson, who has been playing First-Class cricket since January 2004, is confident they will make the most of these opportunities.
“Selection into the international side has to be the goals of every player in our side. Obviously, that does not happen overnight or after two games for some, but good performances always count.”
“Looking at the Test side, they have struggled a bit, especially batting-wise, so I think they are places there for batters who score big runs,” the 34-year-old stated.
The West Indies Championship marks not only a return of the regional red ball competition but also the opportunity for West Indian players to stake their claim for selection to the West Indies Test squad for the forthcoming Apex Test Series between West Indies and England in March 2022.
The first and second rounds will be played in Barbados and Trinidad from Wednesday, February 9 to Saturday, February 12; and from Tuesday, February 15 to Friday, February 18.
The last three rounds of the West Indies Championship are scheduled to be contested in May.