One of the more notable inclusions in the West Indies Test squad for the upcoming series against India is off-spinning all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall. An immense physical presence, Cornwall has attracted global attention due to his atypical physique, but as is often the way, the viral clamour has distracted from a very impressive set of numbers. Cornwall is no novelty pick – his record holds up.
Since making his first-class debut on December 5th 2014, he’s maintained a batting average of 24.43 and a bowling average of 23.90.
First things first, he ticks the box to be considered a genuine all-rounder; his bowling average is lower than his batting average. In that time, globally, there have been plenty of players to hold a better batting average in FC cricket, but only a handful of those have taken more wickets at a better average as well. Among those players are some impressive Test performers, the likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Pat Cummins, Vernon Philander and Jofra Archer. Cornwall’s record, amongst established first-class cricketers of the last few years, is excellent.
Purely as a batsman, his record is clearly middling, but he gives it some oomph. A career scoring rate of 4.09rpo is testament to Cornwall’s ability to go through the gears and take on opposition bowlers. As part of a West Indies middle order that is increasingly happy to try and force the pace, an assault led by the young starlet Shimron Hetmyer, Cornwall could slot in rather easily.
As a bowler, Cornwall has all the classic hallmarks of an off-spinner, not least the clear preference for bowling to left-handed batsman. His bowling average against left-handers is just 15, less than half of what it is for when bowling to right-handers. Whilst this is excellent news if West Indies are faced with a lefty-dominated top order, he might not be the best fit for this series, given the relative paucity of left-handers in the Indian batting line-up.
Regardless, whenever Cornwall does get the nod, his domestic record suggests that he has the ability to compete. A home series against the world No.1 side would be a fitting stage for an exciting young talent to make his step onto the international arena, and he would be the first Antiguan to debut in a Test on the island – but his debut already feels like a case of when, not if.