West Indies cricket’s greatest spinner Lance Gibbs is under fire in Antigua and Barbuda this week because of comments he made on Tuesday’s Mason & Guest radio programme on Voice of Barbados.

Fans in Antigua & Barbuda and the Leeward Islands are infuriated by sharp views Gibbs proffered about off-spinning allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall while evaluating the quality of spinners in Caribbean cricket.

With 309 wickets in a 79-match career, Gibbs has almost twice the number of wickets in Test cricket as the next most successful spinner in West Indies history, Sonny Ramadhin at 158. Alf Valentine (139), Devendra Bishoo (117) and part-time spinner Carl Hooper (114) are the only other spin bowlers surpassing the 100-mark in our Test cricket history. Ramadhin and Valentine preceded Gibbs – with a few years of overlap – but Hooper and Bishoo came after, long after.

So Gibbs speaks from a position of strength and achievement when he bemoans the dearth of spin-bowling success coming out of the West Indies for decades since his departure in the mid-1970s.

Social media is now flooded with comments lashing out at the 85-year-old icon because Cornwall did not escape his criticism in the few minutes he used in the radio interview to submit his views on the quality of West Indies spin bowlers.

Antigua and Barbuda’s cricket fraternity has understandably been prickly whenever the name Rahkeem Cornwall is mentioned in the context of West Indies selection. They had become bitter and resentful because his several years of steady, at times compelling performances, went unrewarded until his Test debut against touring India last summer.

To be fair to Gibbs, he did not deliberately target Cornwall in his criticism of spinners but merely reacted to prompting from Andrew Mason and co-host Dr Andrew Forde.

Responding to questions probing whether any new-generation off-break bowlers had impressed him, his response was a sharp “No! … They’re not spinning the ball, like who? call a name (laughs),” Gibbs said.

Asked explicitly to comment on Cornwall’s ability, Gibbs knocked the player’s technique. “How could you take two steps and bowl? Where is your rhythm, where is that rhythm?” he asked.

So Gibbs obviously has an issue with Cornwall’s bowling technique and while I disagree with some of his assessment, his overarching view on the issue, I concluded, was that “they” are not spinning the ball. He grouped a cluster of this generation of bowlers and proceeded to address Cornwall because it was the name put to him by his interviewers.

So blasting Guyanese Gibbs over these Cornwall comments, accusing him of regional insularity and the other venomous outbursts, gets us nowhere. Gibbs has an opinion on the state of West Indies spin bowling that existed before Cornwall started playing cricket.

Before I tackle the spin icon’s “two steps and bowl” observation, I must say an evaluation that Cornwall does not spin the ball is grossly incorrect. The big man consistently produces significant turn with his deliveries, the reason why he has been the leading off-spinner in recent years in the Regional 4-day tournament and why he was man-of-the-match for the West Indies in their one-off Test against Bangladesh last November with a 10-wicket haul. He posted magnificent figures of 7-57 and 3-46 in that Lucknow Test.

Because the vast majority of Cornwall’s cricket has been played domestically, I am not sure how much of him the Florida-based Gibbs has seen.

The burly Cornwall had been cited by the previous Courtney Browne-led selection panel as a player with talent but at 300+ pounds needed to work on his body conditioning. He underwent work with a specialist and there has been some improvement in his weight management.

In his delivery, Cornwall uses approximately five steps before he releases, not two as Gibbs says, but at his weight and size he really is an unorthodox and unique specimen in international cricket.

Gibbs is also on record in the post-1995 years -- when the mighty West Indies were unseated as the world’s best – urging regional selectors, coaches and captains to give spinners opportunities to develop when it was evident the fast-bowling prowess had tapered.

Spinners have had a tough time flourishing in a West Indies cricket culture, propelled in the 1970s to world dominance by a battery of bullet-quick pacers. With that legacy, the selection approach has, for decades, persisted with a fast-bowling bias even when the material did not support it and unfortunately for the spinners, non-performance on their part often swiftly resulted in the axe.

Recent history is replete with some substandard fast bowlers getting more opportunities at the highest level than slow bowlers, who, I think, were often better spin bowlers than they were fast bowlers.

Year after year, spinners have dominated the bowling statistics in West Indies first-class cricket. In the last three domestic seasons, Cornwall and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul (twice) have led the bowling statistics. Only once in the past decade -- dominated by Nikita Miller -- did a non-spinner top the bowling statistics, that was 2013-14 through medium pacer Kenroy Peters. Before that, try 13 years ago in 2007 for another pacer topping the Regional first-class bowling statistics, Jermaine Lawson.

If spinners have been so poor, how do you explain this stark supremacy in regional cricket?

Lance Gibbs is not impressed with the current crop of spin bowlers in the Caribbean.

While speaking on Mason and Guest in Barbados on Tuesday, Gibbs expressed his disappointment at the spin bowlers currently playing in the Caribbean and was particularly critical of the much-heralded Rahkeem Cornwall.

Apparently, the 85-year-old former West Indies off-break bowler knows a bit about spin bowling. Between 1958 and 1976, Gibbs played 79 Tests for the West Indies taking 309 wickets at an average of 29.09 and enjoyed an economy rate of under two runs an over.

He was the first spinner in Test history to take 300 wickets and the second bowler behind England’s Fred Truman to do so.

His best performances came in the 1961/62 home series against India.

Over the course of five Tests, he picked up 24 wickets at just 20.41 apiece. Additionally, in one of the game's greatest spells of bowling at Bridgetown, he single-handedly reduced India from 149 for 2 to 187 all out. In 15.3 overs, Gibbs took eight wickets for just six runs to finish with figures of 8 for 38, his best Test-match haul.

Asked if he has seen any off-break bowlers in recent times who have caught his eye, Gibbs responded with an emphatic, “No!”

“They’re not spinning the ball,” he said.

Asked his thoughts on Cornwall, who has taken 13 wickets in the two Tests and 303 First-ClassWi wickets in 62 matches, Gibbs was critical of the player’s technique. “How can you take two steps and bowl? Where is your rhythm, where is that rhythm?” he asked.

“As a spin bowler you have got to use the crease, you have the return crease and you have the stumps, you have to bowl between those two. I never then had to go around the wicket to bowl, a lot because by using the crease I could get close to the stumps on the offside and still bowl and make it go on straighter instead of going around the wicket.”

Gibbs, who stood at over six feet in height, also revealed the secret of his success while playing cricket back in his heyday even while playing in a team characterized by its fast-bowling talent.

“I started as a leg spinner and I couldn’t bowl a googly,” he revealed. “I realized that with my height and with my high arm-action I am going to get bounce off any wicket in the world and if you’re getting bounce it is difficult to really hit you in the meat of the bat. It hits more higher up, and therefore you get catches all around.”

After he retired, Gibbs returned to manage the West Indies team in 1991 during their tour of England.

 

 

 

Leeward Islands Hurricanes all-rounder Rakheem Cornwall helped himself to an eight-wicket haul to force a draw with Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, in the West Indies Championship fixture at Basseterre.

The Red Force resumed the day at 96 for 6, already under a blistering attack from the burly spinner who removed five of the six batsmen dismissed on the third day.  On the resumption, Cornwall picked up where he left off, accounting for Joshua Da Silva, who battled to 79, before dismissing lower-order batsmen Terrance Hinds (8), Uthman Muhammad(14) and Anderson Phillip (0) as the Red Force collapsed.

With Trinidad and Tobago all-out for 155, the Hurricanes looked set to make it a close contest after needing 191 to win and they took the opportunity.  A strong bowling attack led by Akeal Hosein and Iram Khan, however, prevented the Leewards from having an easy run at the total.

Cornwall, however, returned to have a good go at the target, compiling a brisk 48 from 44 before caught by Khan off Hosein.  Devon Thomas provided solid support with 34 from 82 but the Leewards ran out of time with the score stuck on 183 for 9 and just eight runs short of the target. Hosein ended with figures of 4 for 40, with Khan claiming 3 for 44.

 

The Trinidad and Tobago Red Force have it in their hands to decide if their West Indies Championship game against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Warner Park in St Kitts ends in a win, loss or draw.

The Red Force, going into Sunday’s final day, enjoy a lead of 130 runs with four second-innings wickets still intact.

Of course, they need quite a few more runs to ensure they do not lose to the Leeward Islands Hurricanes, who made 251 in their first innings.

Batting first, the Hurricanes scored 287 thanks to a lower-order fightback from Terrance Ward, who scored 89 to save them from a particularly poor total against an all-round bowling performance from the Hurricanes, including 3-62 from Jermiah Lewis, 2-87 from Sheeno Berridge, 2-43 from Nino Henry, and 2-74 from Rahkeem Cornwall.

The Hurricanes’ 251-run reply came on the back of Amir Jangoo’s 90, and against Imran Khan’s 4-67.

There were also two wickets apiece for Anderson Phillip (2-54), Akeal Hosein (2-52), and Uthman Muhammed (2-51).

On Saturday, the penultimate day of the contest, the Red Force made their way to 94-6, with Joshua Da Silva not out on 45. Hosein has joined him at the crease but is yet to score.

The Red Force have to bat long enough to ensure the Hurricanes do not have time to overhaul their target but must be wary of Cornwall who has sent five of the six batsmen to have fallen back to the pavilion. Cornwall has 5-29 so far this innings and seven wickets in the match.

While the West Indies were expected to dominate their one-off Test against Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, they still had to do it and it was important to their skipper, Jason Holder, that the year ended with his side tasting some success.

The West Indies, playing in a one-off Test after T20 and ODI series against Afghanistan, were emphatic nine-wicket winners after bowling out the hosts for 187 and 120 while scoring 277 and 31-1.

The results were brought about by Rahkeem Cornwall’s 7-75 and 3-46, as well as Shamarh Brooks first-innings knock of 111.

“Really important win, you know. We had a tough series against India. Was important to finish the year well,” said Holder after his West Indies side finished the game inside three days.

Holder also pointed out that there was a certain type of unity within the West Indies squad that he believed would hold them in good stead for bigger challenges on the horizon.

“We've got a good group going. The whole management staff has been excellent. We've got good unity, we have a one-team motif. Once we love one another, the job becomes much easier on the cricket field. Hope it continues," he said.

Holder was also pleased with the way the new players in the side have come on and held their hands up to be counted when the going gets tough.

“Very pleasing to see new guys come in and take the opportunity. Shamarh did that. He scored a fifty in the last innings and followed it with a hundred here. It was full of class. And then Rahkeem getting seven in the first innings, in just his second Test, is amazing,” said Holder.

Rahkeem Cornwall’s 10-wicket haul in a nine-wicket win for the West Indies over Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, while a great start, is just one part of the game the all-rounder wants to get right for the regional side.

Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan believes his side can be a much better Test side given the opportunity.

Rashid was speaking after Friday’s demolition at the hands of the West Indies in Lucknow, India.

The West Indies, playing in a one-off Test after T20 and ODI series against Afghanistan, were emphatic nine-wicket winners after bowling out the hosts for 187 and 120 while scoring 277 and 31-1.

The results were brought about by Rahkeem Cornwall’s 7-75 and 3-46, as well as Shamarh Brooks first-innings knock of 111.

But according to Rashid, despite the one-sidedness of the affair, there isn’t a big gap between Afghanistan and the better Test-playing nations.

“I think, what I've seen, we've been struggling in the longer formats. Especially in batting. That's the only area we need to improve. Once we do that, we can trouble good sides,” he said.

The Afghanistan skipper believes that his team lacks experience, and with a little more of it, the teams at the top will have to watch out.

“Still early days in our Test careers, only our fourth game, against an experienced Windies. Hope to recover from our mistakes. We want more Tests,” said Rashid.

At the moment, the opportunity for Afghanistan to play more Test cricket and to get that valuable experience is a little beyond them, a situation, Rashid is not happy with.

“Just one Test per year isn't good enough.”

But the talent is there and Rashid is hopeful that the best for Afghanistan, is yet to come.

“Great talent for us in the future. We are not taking our batting innings long. People are getting out for thirties and forties. We need to work on that. Overall, quite disappointing. And we will try to bring the improvements,” said Rashid.

Afghanistan will now turn its attention away from Test cricket for the moment to the Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup early next year.

Shamarh Brooks struck a magnificent maiden Test century before Rahkeem Cornwall claimed a 10-wicket match haul on day two to leave West Indies closing in on victory against Afghanistan.

Brooks showed great skill and application in only his third Test to make 111 after John Campbell fell for 55 as the Windies posted 277 in Lucknow.

Debutant Amir Hamza took 5-74 on a turning pitch to restrict the Windies' lead to 90 runs, but Afghanistan were reduced to 109-7 at stumps - leading by only 19 and facing a heavy defeat.

Cornwall claimed brilliant Test-best figures of 7-75 in only his second international on day one and helped himself to 3-41 on Thursday.

Roston Chase (3-10) also took advantage of spin-friendly conditions at Ekana International Cricket Stadium, striking a big blow by removing Javed Ahmadi for 62 with the final ball of the day.

Campbell and Brooks got Jason Holder's side off to a solid start after resuming on 68-2, but the opener departed when Ihsanullah took a fine catch anticipating the sweep off Hamza to end a stand of 82.

Shimron Hetmyer and Chase also fell before lunch, but Brooks played positively in the morning session, before reigning it in somewhat following the break.

Shane Dowrich (42) offered support to take the Windies into the lead and Brooks attacked Rashid Khan (3-114) after the wicketkeeper-batsman was removed by Zahir Khan.

Elegant Barbados batsman Brooks had struck a six and 15 fours by the time he was bowled by impressive left-armer Hamza.

Just as in their first innings, Afghanistan got off to an encouraging start, but they were 59-4 after losing four wickets for six runs - burly spinner Cornwall taking two in one over.

Ahmadi stood firm as wickets tumbled around him, but Chase produced a devastating late burst and had the opener caught by Cornwall just before the close to leave Afghanistan on the ropes.

Rahkeem Cornwall has downplayed the idea that there was a magical formula for his performance on the first day of a one-off Test match against Afghanistan in Lucknow, India.

The Leeward Islands Hurricanes began the 2019 Colonial Medical Insurance Super50 season on a high, beating the defending champions Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) Marooners by 198 runs on Wednesday at Warner Park in St Lucia.

The result was brought about by the batting of Devon Thomas and the bowling of Rahkeem Cornwall.

Sent into bat, Thomas began plotting the Marooner’s demise with a well-paced 105 from just 93 deliveries, helping the Hurricanes to 292-7 from 50 overs.

Thomas smacked 10 fours and one six on his way to the total, sharing in 50-run partnerships with

Other batsmen, Kieran Powell (30), Amir Jangoo (39), and Akeem Saunders (24), got starts as well, but there were no other significant contributions against the bowling of Larry Joseph, 2-26, and Jalarnie Seales, 2-71. There was also a wicket apiece for Kavesh Kantasingh (1-51) and Ojay Shields (1-47).

In reply,the Marooners, without Carlos Brathwaite, the man who led them to the title last year, were a shadow of themselves, as Cornwall with 4-20 from 5.3 overs and Sheno Berridge, with 3-20, decimated them on the way to 94 all out in 31.3 overs.

Jason Campbell, 1-27, and Jeremiah Louis, 1-8, also got among the wickets against the defending champions for whom only Seales, 39, Odain McCatty, 15, and Akeem Jordan, 11, made it into double figures.   

Windies all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall hopes to make full use of the upcoming series against Afghanistan to deliver his best as he looks to cement a place in the regional squad.

The 26-year-old Antiguan made his debut for the regional team in August against India, where he claimed three wickets and made 15 runs.  Having been selected as a part of the 16-man ODI squad for the upcoming series against Afghanistan, the player is hoping for a much bigger impact this time around.

“After coming off the CPL, I am just trying to get in some work with the Antigua national team and do my fitness work outside of that and see how much I can prepare leading up to the India series. I think I already have a taste of what Test cricket is about so I just have to go and start to perform. I can’t wait any longer to start to deliver the goods at that level so I have to put myself in a position to perform and not really setting any goals, but performance is the key,” Cornwall told the Antigua Observer.

The all-rounder is coming off a productive season for Caribbean Premier League (CPL) team St Lucia Zouks.  His 254 runs in 10 matches was the highest runs scored for the team.  The player, however, believes things could have better.

 “I wouldn’t say I am happy. I think I had a few good starts and gave it away and I think I could have carried on, and had I carried on then, maybe, I would have been in the [West Indies] T20 squad, but it wasn’t one of the best CPL squads I’ve had,” Cornwall said.

“I think the role that I was given I did it well and it’s just up to me to carry on and make bigger things but it didn’t happen so next time around I have to make sure I do those things and see how far that performance can take me.”

 

 

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