JAGUARS ARE CHAMPIONS

Pride draw with Volcanoes to give Leon Johnson’s side unassailable lead

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Guyana Jaguars were confirmed as winners of the 2017-18 Digicel 4-Day Championship, after their nearest rivals Barbados Pride settled for a draw with Windward Islands Volcanoes in their rain-affected match on Sunday.

Jaguars completed a nail-biting, two-wicket victory over Jamaica Scorpions inside three days in their eighth-round match on Saturday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, taking them to an unassailable 135 points – with two rounds of games remaining.

It is the fourth straight Headley/Weekes Trophy, symbol of WINDIES first-class supremacy, for the Jaguars, following in the footsteps of previous incarnations of the Pride and Scorpions.

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“As you can imagine, it’s a very good feeling for us to win the title for a fourth straight year,” said Jaguars captain Leon Johnson. “I am someone that delves into the history of the game – Barbados would have achieved this in the late 1970s, and Jamaica did it between 2008 and 2012.

“We are only the third team to have achieved something like this in WINDIES first-class history. It is very pleasing to be part of it and to be at the helm for the fourth consecutive year of us winning this title. It is testament to our hard work. We have won it with two matches remaining, which is a feat in itself.”

Johnson added: “It is also testament to the way we have played this season. As a team, we have played well. I think everyone who has played has made a contribution, some more significantly than others, but I do not think there is a game that we played where someone did not put up their hand up and played well for the team with bat or ball.”

“We have two matches remaining – against Pride and Trinidad & Tobago Red Force – and we want to play unbeaten this season. We accomplished this two seasons ago (2015-16) and this is our aim for those two matches.”

Johnson said: “There are a number of factors that contributed to our recent success. Fitness is a big part of it. Our players have remained fit throughout the competition. We have not had a lot of injuries during this period, and we have not had to change a lot of players and bring in new players.

“Players have also responded well when put under pressure. We have won a lot of games over the last four seasons, but it has not always been smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination – and at those times, when we have come under pressure, players have always found a way to dig us out of the hole.”

Johnson said: “Winning this title will mean a lot to the people of Guyana – many of whom have supported us throughout. We have worked hard leading up to this tournament, but it is not just the senior team. Our junior teams have been consistently winning and I think it is just testament of the hard work that the players have put in to being successful.

“The weather sometimes has not always cooperated and allowed us to prepare as well as we would have liked, but we have always found a way to make do with what time and facilities are available, and so this means a lot to us to be able to remain this consistent over such a long period.”

Pride (316) & 135-1 vs Volcanoes (287) in Bridgetown, Barbados

Pride, led by half-centuries from Shamarh Brooks and Shayne Moseley, chose discretion as the best part of valour and settled for the draw.

Brooks, the Pride captain, stroked a typically effortless, unbeaten 69 and Moseley was not on 57 before the two teams decided it was pointless to continue about 20 minutes before the scheduled close on the final day of their eighth-round match at Kensington Oval.

Brooks languidly drove Volcanoes captain Tyron Theophile, peddling his uncomplicated off-spin, to long-on for a single to reach his 50 from 101 balls, and Moseley soon followed, when he tucked veteran off-spinner Shane Shillingford off his hips into square leg for a single to reach the landmark from 166 balls.

The pair knuckled down and shared 125 – unbroken – for the second wicket, knowing that the prospect of a victory which would keep the Championship alive was out of the question, following the complete wash-out on Saturday’s third day.

Earlier, Volcanoes, starting the day from 241 for six, were bowled out for 287, in reply to the Pride’s first innings total of 316 about 35 minutes before lunch.

There was token resistance from the visitors’ tail-end batsman, but it was enough to erase any possibility of an imaginative finish.

West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach was the most successful Pride bowler with 4-75 from 22 overs, Kevin Stoute took 2-30 from 19 overs and Justin Greaves supported with 2-54 from 22.4 overs.

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