A look at Antigua’s spinning sensation Rahkeem Cornwall


Rahkeem Cornwall cuts an unmissable figure on the cricket pitch. Standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 140 kilograms, he’s a rare phenomenon in every sense of the word and, unsurprisingly, you know where he is at all times on the cricket pitch. Indeed, if you ever find yourself watching the West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium in Antigua on a hot summer’s day, you won’t ever have to ask which player Cornwall is.

From Liberta to playing for the West Indies

The 28-year-old hails from Antigua’s third-largest town, Liberta. Cricket was already familiar to Rahkeem Cornwall through his relation to his uncle, the legendary Wilden Cornwall who has racked up just over 50 first-class games in his cricketing career so far.

Rakheem’s passion for the game translated into accolades such as representing the Leeward Islands in 2014, before being given his West Indies debut in August 2019 when the islanders took on India in Jamaica. It was indeed the proverbial baptism of fire for Cornwall in Test cricket after the Indians claimed an astonishing 257 run win but encouragingly still, the Antiguan managed to leave Kingston with three wickets on his debut.

The cricketing world was naturally taken by Cornwall’s appearance following his debut and when pictures of the 28-year-old circulated online, there was genuine astonishment at the imposing physique of the Antiguan. It’s fair to say that at first, his weight divided opinion as reported by inews, which led to a great deal of publicity.

In many respects, the all-rounder became a sensation overnight but it soon became apparent that the West Indies had unearthed a gem of a cricketer. Talk quickly turned to his skill on the pitch and not what he looked like, which is perhaps the greatest testament to his undeniable skill.

Following that, Cornwall’s finest hour in a Windies shirt came less than two years after his debut when he helped the West Indies secure a historic 2-0 Test series win in Bangladesh after taking nine wickets in the final match in Mirpur.

It was a remarkable effort from the West Indians that rightly warranted the wave of congratulations from Sandals their title sponsor, given that it was the first time in 65 years that all the wickets had been taken by West Indian spinners.

The beauty of Cornwall

The role of Cornwall in this extraordinary feat shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, the islanders have always been revered as a fast bowling nation but thanks to Cornwall’s spinning exploits, the Windies now have another string to their bow.

This is a welcome development given that the Windies will set out to defend their 2016 T20 World Cup title in the UAE and Oman towards the end of the year. In reality, Cornwall’s timely heroics on the subcontinent will give the islanders a new dynamic that they didn’t have before. It’s looking more and more like the Windies have now found the perfect balance in their T20 team.

Indeed, with the likes of Chris Gayle belligerently hitting with his meaty Spartan bat at the top of the order and then the refined spinning of Cornwall to subdue the opposition’s batting, it does seem like the West Indies will stand a good chance of returning to the Caribbean with the T20 World Cup trophy they won five years ago.

As far as the official odds go, as of 6 July, Betway has priced the West Indies at +800 to defend their title, which suggests that they do have their work cut out for them. With that being the case, one has to keep in mind that the likes of Chris Gayle will in all likelihood retire after the World Cup, so there is bound to be a strong desire to go out with a bang.

As for Cornwall, he will be around for a while yet and is only really beginning in the international cricket arena. The world will see plenty more from the talented Antiguan over the years and West Indies fans can look forward to the 28-year-old providing many more historic moments like he did in Bangladesh.

When all is said and done, it’s wonderful to think that a man from Liberta is busy rewriting the script as far as cricket and even professional sport at large goes. One size certainly does not fit all and Rakheem Cornwall is proving that one wicket at a time.

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