‘I saw the team on Facebook!’- Guyana Harpy Eagles captain Leon Johnson
Leon Johnson, captain of the Guyana Harpy Eagles, made a shocking revelation on Tuesday evening when he appeared on Barbados radio programme, Mason and Guest, stating that he learnt of his selection to the 13-man squad for the first two rounds of the West Indies Four-Day Championship through a post on Facebook.
“I saw the team on Facebook!” the long-standing captain of the Harpy Eagles revealed in response to a question on whether he was informed of the squad selected.
Pressed by host Andrew Mason to clarify his statement, Johnson responded: “…would I make that up?”
On the evening of January 20, the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) released the squad to the media, but according to the distinguished captain, there was no prior communication to him on the squad from any official of the Bissoondyal Singh-led board.
It must be noted numerous efforts have been made by News Room Sport to contact GCB officials for comments on matters pertaining to the squad, but no direct response on selection matters has been given to date.
Matters of selection
Johnson’s comments stemmed from questions surrounding his input into the selection of the squad, given the public outrage over the non-selection of left-arm spinner Antony Adams.
The 35-year-old, who has led the Harpy Eagles (formerly Guyana Jaguars) to five consecutive titles since the start of the Professional Cricket League in the 2014-15 season, and was bestowed with the Golden Arrowhead of Achievement award in 2019, made another startling revelation that he had no input in the selection of the squad.
“No, I have not been [part of selection] for the last two tournaments…I am not part of selection,” he stated when directly questioned on the matter.
However, Johnson clarified that “it has not always been that way…I used to have an input, my opinion was valued.”
In March 2021, a new GCB executive took office and they overlooked the preparation of the Four-Day and Super50 squads in 2022.
The current senior selection panel appointed by the GCB comprises Ravindranauth Seeram (Chairman), Albert Clements (Berbice), Peter Persaud (Demerara) and Elroy Stephany (Essequibo).
News Room Sport is reliably informed that in the past, some level of consultation occurred between the Head Coach, Captain and members of the Selection Panel, as is the case with the West Indies team, before a final decision is made.
“I think the captain should be able to make recommendations into the selection of squads,” Johnson contended.
“…captains should have an input, if not being a selector directly, being able to make a decision saying I want this player or I want that player, at least some input if you have been playing the game for the better part of 15 years.”
The left-hander, who last played for West Indies in 2016, did confirm that on tour, he and the coach would determine the Playing XI.
Unfortunate for Adams
Though Johnson opted not to directly comment on Adams’ non-selection, he believed that the Essequibian, who played one First-Class match in 2017, was “close to selection.”
“I thought he [Antony Adams] would have been very close to selection…he was with the team last year and he has been a very consistent performer for the last decade or so.”
Johnson highlighted that in the past Adams had to contend with Devendra Bishoo and Veerasammy Permaul being in the side and then Permaul and Gudakesh Motie.
“When these guys are available it is always hard for him [Adams] to get into the side and when you [also] look at the composition of the side, we would play two spinners along with all-rounders and two fast-bowlers, so it was always hard for him to get into the side.”
He added, “Now that Motie is unavailable due to West Indies selection, you thought a player like Antony, who is not experienced at the First-Class level, but he is very experienced generally, would have gotten the nod.”
Harpy Eagles depart on January 29 for Antigua to face defending champions Barbados Pride from February 1, then Windward Volcanoes from February 8 in Grenada.
The Championship then takes a break and resumes on March 15 for the remaining three rounds in Trinidad and Tobago.