England went up against the larger-than-life character of Rahkeem Cornwall when they took on the WICB President's XI in a one-day tour match in St Kitts on Monday ahead of their 3 match ODI series.
It's fair to say that 24-year-old Cornwall does not immediately strike you as an elite athlete. A towering 6ft 5in tall and heftily built, the Antiguan all-rounder smashed 59 from just 61 balls hitting 3 fours and 3 sixes in Basseterre. Athlete is not what we think whenever we see someone who has a significantly huge built. Even after they achieve top-level feats we still might not believe they belong at the highest level.
— Jai Bednall (@jaibednall) February 27, 2017
Similar to Cornwall, Bermudan cricketer Dwayne Leverock came to the limelight when he leaped to his right at slip to snare a blinder against India during the 2007 World Cup despite being 270 pounds at that time.
If you saw Rahkeem Cornwall strolling down the street he would certainly not strike you as a professional sportsman. And yet the towering Antiguan all-rounder is easily one of the most talented up-and-coming players in the Caribbean. In this first-class season, he averages over 37 which is impressive for a number seven batsman.
In the recent Super 50, List A competition, he played nine games, scored 252 runs, averaged a commendable 50.40 and has a strike rate of 117.75.
He has delivered his off-spin accurately with drift and a fair bit of turn at an economy rate of 2.86 in First-class matches and 3.38 in List A matches indicate. He has captured an impressive 125 wickets, with 10 five-wicket hauls from 25 first-class games at a 24.19 average, and has 19 wickets from 21 List A matches.
Cornwall had also impressed in the practice game that India played against the West Indies Cricket Board President's XI in July 2016. He picked up a five-wicket haul and also came up with a couple of gritty knocks batting at No. 7
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) February 27, 2017
In October 2016, Cornwall was selected for the West Indies A tour of Sri Lanka, taking part in all 3 matches; while disappointing with the bat, he went on to take a series-high 23 wickets including 2 five-wicket hauls at an average of 19.82. In the first innings of the first game at the R Premadasa Stadium, he took 8 for 108.
The West Indies selectors seem to have him in their sights. But they're concerned about his heft they recently announced that they are putting together a program to facilitate the player fulfilling.
According to Chairman of Selectors, Courtney Browne who said, "We're actually putting a program in place for Rahkeem where we are actually going to have someone to manage him overall. We are looking at the various components of him playing cricket where we are looking at coaches, dieticians, and just getting everybody to come together to help this young player because he's a special talent."
Cornwall too made his intentions clear saying, “If losing weight is the issue then that is why I am on the program with the West Indies Cricket Board. So I am putting in my best and putting in the work to lose the weight if that is the case — because it can’t be performance so I will do what I have to do to make the West Indies team.”
Image credit: @WestIndies