At five feet five inches, he looks anything but a fast bowler.
Yet Telston Johnson is more than just an ordinary paceman. He happens to be the fastest rising of all fast bowlers in New York.
In his first ever Ahmad Caribbean Cup game for Guyana, Johnson destabilized the powerful Jamaica batting lineup to keep Guyana unbeaten in a key game last weekend.
He ended with three wickets for 30-odd runs – a performance that could well cement a big future for the young man in New York and United States cricket.
Johnson cleaned up the top three in the Jamaican batting order, including dangerous opener Carl Wright and never looked back in an impressive spell of 10 successive overs.
He was the surprise package the Jamaicans knew nothing about, but it was only the continuation of a brilliant season the stocky fast bowler is enjoying.
In only his second season in the Eastern American League, Johnson finds himself on the verge of a record breaking bowling feat.
He has snapped up 22 wickets in six games so far for East Bank, only four away from erasing the record of 25.
It is a remarkable display for someone in only his third season on matting pitches and without glittering credentials prior to his career in America.
All his success though, might not have been possible without determination, confidence and an aggressive disposition – all qualities necessary for success in the world of sport.
Johnson personally lobbied for his selection for Guyana after making telephone calls to team leaders Steve Massiah and Lennox Cush.
Aware that key pacemen Reon King and Kevin Darlington would be unavailable, the paceman made his move and the rest of his story is now history.
He automatically became the spearhead pacer with part-time seamer Sudesh Dhaniram as his new ball opening partner.
Displaying great composure, Johnson was struck for a four in his very first ball of the game by Wright, – the over eventually cost eight runs, but the paceman rebounded to send the aggressive right-hander packing and the next two that followed.
When Jamaica was eventually all out for a meager 112, replying to a 200-plus target, Johnson was toast of the match.
Here was an unknown who upset the apple-cart and had he not dropped a difficult return catch offered by Jamaica’s captain Richard Staple, his figures would’ve been even more impressive.
He said Wright offered congratulations afterwards, among others, but Johnson was not too surprised he made a big impression.
Playing for East Bank, allowed him to develop the type of confidence that empowers him to believe he will perform well in every game he plays.
That includes batting, where he has proved himself more than a useful man in the middle order.
But the key to Johnson’s bowling prowess is his ability to swing the ball both ways, a difficult skill for bowlers at any level.
Such is his determination, he picked up tips from television that he tried and eventually taught himself.
“I followed the advice Michael Holding and others give on TV – that is how I started to learn the techniques.”
And he has a fair measure of pace he generates from his skiddy right-armers, to go with the swing.
Those were the days when he played for Parika-Salem club on Guyana’s West Coast Demerara, in the West Indies.
There he had an inauspicious start to competition – having never represented his school or even his county at junior level.
Johnson was once called to Essequibo county trials at senior level but never got the chance to make a breakout.
“Players from the East Bank always had a disadvantage, because they (selectors) always favored the ones from the Coast (Essequibo),” he declared
So Johnson eventually migrated from Guyana without much opportunity to fulfill his potential.
In New York he was introduced to Richmond Hill club by a cousin in 2003 and played one year before moving over to Rockaway club in the Nassau League. There he had a better year, performance-wise, before returning to the EACA where some players had broke off from Richmond Hill to form East Bank.
Johnson fit right in there where he found the team spirit second to none.
“We have a great captain in Steve Mangru and everyone plays as a team.”
The cooperation of everyone, Johnson says, contributed primarily to his 22-wicket haul so far. “Things like keeping the ball shine on one side is something we all work on every game,” Johnson said, referring to well documented strategy required for seam movement.
With two matches to go in the EACA round robin series, East Bank does not have a chance of making the final-four playoffs.
But Johnson aims to earn the club some consolation by taking care of the wickets record.
So far he has one four-wicket haul, snared against Atlantis in that bad tempered game, which the latter team won in a low scoring affair, and believes he will be the next holder of the new record.
Whether he accomplishes those feats or not, New York and United States teams are the next lucky ones in line to benefit from the qualities of a budding stalwart all-rounder.