Johnson: HPC 'made all the difference'
Arnos Vale, St Vincent — Delorn Johnson is looking for more success with the ball when he lines up for West Indies A against India A in the third and final Digicel four-day ‘Test’ match on Saturday at Beausejour Cricket Ground.
The 23-year-old left-arm pacer has been the stand-out bowler in the series so far with his ability to get swing with the new ball and the old ball, as well as to bowl with sustained pace on the slow surfaces. He said his preparation work at the Sagicor High Performance Centre between 2010 and 2011 has been one of the main reasons for his success.
“I would say I got a lot of knowledge and learned a lot during my two years at the HPC. It has made all the difference in my development and in my cricket career. When I went there I was a bit ‘raw’, but I was able to settle down and work hard on my bowling and all other aspects of my cricket. I knew I had to work hard if I wanted to progress and I got a lot of good advice from the coaches there as well,” said Johnson.
“All the things I got from the HPC I am now putting into my game and things are looking up for me. One of the things I really wanted to focus on was my control and consistency and I managed to get that sorted. I don’t want to get ahead of myself ... I am bowling well and I just want to keep doing well for the West Indies A team and help us to win this series.”
Standing six-feet-five-inches tall, Johnson was almost unplayable in the West Indies’ win in the second ‘Test’ on his home turf at Arnos Vale, St Vincent earlier this week. He earned career-best figures of six for 34 from 17 menacing overs. He rocked the Indian top order with four wickets in the final hour on Monday, and picked up two more in the first hour on Tuesday morning.
Johnson ended with eight wickets in the second match to follow up his five wickets in the first match. In his brief first-class career, Johnson has so far played just nine matches with 27 wickets at an impressive average of 19.00 runs each. He is also a capable hard-hitting lower-order batsman with an average of 29.00 and a top score of 51.
He has formed a good new ball combination with Jason Holder, the six-foot-seven-inch pacer who is also a graduate of the Sagicor HPC. The 20-year-old Holder took five for 55 off 27 overs in the second innings of the first Digicel ‘Test’ in Barbados.
“We felt we broke the back of the Indian batting on the third day when we got those four wickets in an hour. I wouldn’t say it was reckless batting, I honestly felt I bowled quite well - I stuck to my plans and hit my areas,” Johnson said.
“When we came back in the final morning we knew we had to complete the job. In Barbados we had them eight wickets down with 80 to win and they got home, so we knew their lower half could still put up a fight. We were aggressive and we did not let them back in. It was an enjoyable win!
“I knew where I wanted to put every ball. It’s a team game, everybody had a part to play and we did a great ball job. I just did what I had to, stayed aggressive, did what I know to do and got the results. It was special to do it at home where I played a lot of my cricket.”
Earlier this year, Johnson set a Windward Islands record when he took an amazing five wickets for five runs off four overs against Barbados in the Caribbean T20 Tournament. He said his performance against India A was “a bit better”.
“I would say ‘yes’, my performance against India was my best day so far. Earlier this year I got five wickets against Barbados and that was a great day for me. To come here and get six against India is a great feeling,” Johnson said.
“The higher you go in cricket the more difficult it becomes to get wickets and you have to work that much harder for your wickets. The India team is a strong one, with some guys who have made over 300 in first-class cricket, so to knock them over in quick time felt great.”
Digicel “Test” Series Schedule
1st Digicel ‘Test’: June 2-5 at Kensington Oval, Barbados - India A won by 2 wickets
2nd Digicel ‘Test’: June 9-12 at Arnos Vale Cricket Ground, St Vincent - West Indies A won by 125 runs
Third Digicel ‘Test’: June 16-19
Beausejour Cricket Ground, St Lucia
Standing Umpires: Peter Nero and Nigel Duguid
Standby Umpire: Francis Maurice
Match Referee: Patrick Felix