Rahkeem Cornwall: Gentle giant on the verge of debut

Cornwall has been a consistent domestic performer since his debut in 2014 (Credits: ICC official website)

India and the West Indies will meet in their inaugural match in the World Test Championship on Aug. 22. The Windies have a special debutant in their squad - a spinner who goes by the name Rahkeem Cornwall.

The moniker 'gentle giant' suits Cornwall perfectly; he is six foot six and weighs around 140 kilograms. In the modern age of cricket, where players are expected to sport six-pack abs and look like an amateur supermodel, Cornwall stands out with his bulky frame.

People, however, should do not make the mistake of underestimating him due to his size. Cornwall's journey to the West Indies team has been one of consistency and hard work. Since making his first-class debut in 2014, the Leewards Island all-rounder has bagged 260 wickets at an average of 23.9 and scored 2,224 runs in just 55 matches. In the 2018-19 West Indies championship season, he ended up as the highest wicket-taker with 54 scalps, at an average of just 17.68.

“The feeling is great, it’s something I’ve been pushing to achieve for a long time," said Cornwall, in an interview with Cricket West Indies. And indeed it has been a long time coming. For someone who has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit, a maiden call-up at the age of 26 seems a bit late. But as the saying goes: 'better late than never'. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work over the last couple of months. I've always pushed myself. I feel I can go on and I think the on-field results I’ve achieved have shown the progress I’m making,” said Cornwall.

He also loves Test cricket. “I believe the Test format suits my game because of the consistency a player needs over a long period of time to be successful and I’ve enjoyed that challenge so far in my career playing first-class cricket,” he said in the interview.
 
However, a debut might still be some time away as the West Indies have settled on Roston Chase as their first-choice spinner. Cornwall is also a batting all-rounder like Chase, so skipper Jason Holder may not opt for both of them in the starting XI. That does not undermine what the Antiguan has achieved thus far. And the man has a simple agenda in mind if he is picked.

“The feeling would be great if I was picked in the first Test," Cornwall said. "I just would want to go out and perform and don’t disappoint my friends and family."

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