Cricketing cult hero and gentle giant, Rakheem Cornwall is crediting his maiden international call-up to the West Indies squad to his exposure to more A-Team cricket and his ongoing fitness programme with Cricket West Indies (CWI).
The 26 year-old Leeward Islands all-rounder, since making his first-class debut in 2011, has consistently delivered on-field performances as he has progressed through his cricketing career.
Since the Caribbean domestic cricket system was modernised in 2014, he has consistently been among the region’s leading spinners claiming 197 of his 260 wickets in the CWI Professional Cricket League (PCL) era. In last season’s West Indies Championship season (2018/19), he was the leading wicket taker with 54 wickets at an average of just 17.68 runs.
He has replicated his regional efforts in international A-team cricket, most notably in the 2018, 3-0 home series win versus England Lions where he clinched 19 wickets at an average of 18.42.
“The feeling [on getting called up] is great – it’s something I’ve been pushing to achieve for a long time,” said Cornwall.
“The A-Team preparation has been very good. England Lions and India A were two quality opposition teams featuring guys that played Test cricket. Overall it has been very challenging and it was a good place to test skills that I’ve been trying to perfect every year in our domestic competition.”
“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.
For all aspiring West Indian cricketers, most have heroes who they look up to and try to and use to inspire their own individual development. There are also famous matches that inspired them to chase the honour of donning the Maroon cap. Cornwall told CWI Media who is his cricket hero and the most memorable game he remembers watching.
“My cricket hero is definitely Jacques Kallis. The way he carried himself as an all-rounder on and off the field, I’ve tried to visualize and work to match certain things I saw Kallis to do my game”, said Cornwall.
“The test match I remember most watching was Brian Lara’s 400 in Antigua 2004. It was early inspiration for sure to become a professional cricketer and to play for the West Indies.
He continued: “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.”
For the forthcoming Test Series against India, West Indies will be looking back on the successful formula used to beat England 2-1 to win back the Wisden Trophy, utilising a 4-man pace attack with Roston Chase providing the main slow bowling option.
While selection for the Test squad selection doesn’t mean an automatic pick for the first Test match, Rahkeem is prepared mentally for the potentially unique opportunity to be the first Antiguan and Leeward Islands player to make his West Indies test debut at home since international cricket was first played in the Leeward Islands, at the Antigua Recreation Ground in 1981.
“The feeling would be great if I was picked in the first test. I just would want to go out and perform and don’t disappoint my friends and family.” This is the first Test Series of the new ICC World Test Championship to find the world’s best Test team. For the first time, players will have a number on the back of their shirt to make it easier for fans and commentators to recognise players on the pitch. Rahkeem’s Test shirt number will be 93, in reference to his year of birth 1993.
To find out more about Rakheem’s career to date, visit his player profile page to see his statistics.