West Indies spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, believes the unusually long preparation time before the start of the Bangladesh Test series has been beneficial for players needing to get used to ‘difficult’ conditions.

The regional team arrived in Bangladesh on January 10 and was required to quarantine for 7 days based on the country’s COVID-19 protocols.  Since clearing that hurdle, however, the Test team has been free to train and will not start the series until February 1.

The Asian team is known for being particularly difficult to beat on their home turf and easily dispatched the West Indies 2-0 on their last visit in 2018.  One of those advantages is said to be the team’s pitches.

“It has helped (extra time) you have to adapt to these conditions. These conditions are difficult to play in, so the more time we get to understand the conditions is the better it is for us,” Cornwall said.

“It spins a bit more here.  It is always going to be drier than the Caribbean.  So, we just have to adapt to it and play to the best of our ability,” he added.

The inexperienced West Indies team will be hoping for a better showing than in the recently concluded One Day International (ODI) series where the team was summarily swept aside 3-0.  The ODI batting line-up found the top class Bangladesh spinners on the surfaces a difficult task to cope with.   

West Indies spinner Rahkeem Cornwall is eager to make use of what could be a solid opportunity on the upcoming tour of Bangladesh, which will provide conditions more suited to spin bowling.

Amidst a flurry of withdrawals, Cornwall was one of the current members of the squad to readily accept the invitation to tour the Asian country next month.

The 27-year-old has been part of the West Indies squad since being invited to the England tour with the team in July.  He then traveled to New Zealand with the team for the tour that took place in December.

Cornwall has, however, had a difficult time making an impact.  Called to the first-team squad for the third Test in England, the spinner bowled 46 overs but did get a wicket.  He was not added to the first team for the New Zealand tour.  On the slower, more spin-friendly matches in Bangladesh, however, the player hopes to have a much bigger impact.

“I think I’m in a good space and we know Bangladesh is known for being more conducive to spin, so I just have to set my mind for a next bubble and go out there and perform the way I should,” Cornwall told the Antigua Observer.

“I went on two tours in England and New Zealand and there was nothing there for spinners and after playing three Test matches, I finally got something that suits me and I hope I can go there and perform,” he added.

Cornwall will have good memories of performing in Asia, as he claimed his career-best figures of 7 for 75 against Bangladesh last year.

West Indies ‘A’ were 26 without loss at stumps on day three of their four-day match against New Zealand ‘A’ still needing a further 332 runs to achieve victory.

Former West Indies pace bowler Tony Gray has expressed concern with the bowling technique of spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, which he believes could eventually lead to the player suffering injury issues.

Another former player, legendary spinner Lance Gibbs, sparked controversy after questioning the effectiveness of the player’s short run-up technique last year.  Taking the analysis a step further, however, Gray believes the unusual technique could also put a strain on the player’s body.

Cornwall has constantly faced criticism for his overall fitness level but has achieved some measure of success despite that.   At an estimated 1.96 m and 308 lbs, he is believed to be the heaviest man to ever play Test cricket.

“I ask the question that has never been answered.  Is Cornwall’s problem genetic, because if it’s genetic it’s going to be difficult to lose the weight?  If not, why hasn’t he lost the weight yet, since the under-19 level,” Gray said recently on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I share Lance Gibbs's opinion…the thing about it is if you look at Cornwall’s mechanics, he is a big guy, he takes two steps and it puts a lot of pressure on his body," he added.

“He had a knee operational earlier this year, not a serious one but he still had some pressure on that knee.  My thing with him is that early on in his career he should have been coached with better mechanics, giving him at least four or five steps.  Spinners who can rip the ball, they don’t only use their wrist or their fingers, but obviously, their body as well and you can’t use your body if you are taking only two steps.”

 

Former West Indies fast bowler Franklyn Rose has expressed serious concerns regarding the fitness of spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, despite admitting that the bowler has incredible talent.

The 27-year-old off-spinner was recently selected as part of a 15-man Test squad that will face New Zealand in a two-match series later this month.  

After putting in several strong performances at the regional and A-Team level, the player made his debut for the West Indies senior team against India last year.

Cornwall has since gone on to appear in three matches, where he has claimed 13 wickets with a best innings of 7 for 75 against Afghanistan.  Discussions surrounding the player have, however, inexorably centred around his weight.  At an estimated 1.96 m and 308 lbs, he is believed to be the heaviest man to ever play Test cricket.  The debate surrounding the issue has settled mainly into two camps, with some believing the player should continue to be given a chance because of his achievements to date and others believing he should be judged on the same fitness merit as other players selected for the squad.  Rose has trended toward the latter.

“He has a lot of talent, but no disrespect, I have a problem with his fitness,” Rose told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Say for example they play him in the first Test and he makes 100 runs. ‘Very well done, congratulations’ but when he goes out into the field to field, how many runs is he going to give away?” he added.

“No disrespect, it doesn’t fit the profile of a Test cricketer.  Maybe try him with the T20.  Can he bat for three days? Do you think he can bat for three days in a Test match? Can he chase the ball to the boundary, pick it up and throw it back in?”

Cornwall is often deployed in the slip positions when the team is on fielding duty.

West Indies offspinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, is determined to have an impactful performance on the upcoming tour of New Zealand, after coming up empty-handed on the previous tour of England.

The 27-year has claimed 13 wickets in three Test matches so far but failed to have a major impact in the team's 2-1 loss to England.  Cornwall was added to the bowling line-up for the third Test and had a spell of 27 balls for 85 runs but did not get a wicket. 

Having been included in the upcoming squad to New Zealand, Cornwall is dead set on making a much more telling impact with the ball this time around.

“I think I am prepared for the tour,” Cornwall told the Antigua Observer.

“I think that this one either makes me or breaks me. I think it’s about time I show what I am worth on the international scene.  I do have a ten-wicket haul in Test cricket, but I need to show a little bit more in terms of starting to get my performance together and make sure this New Zealand tour courts,” he added.

Cornwall's best Test match figures came against Afghanistan where he claimed an overall 10 for 121 and previously captured two wickets against India on his debut.

West Indies all-rounder Rakheem Cornwall insists he was ready to go for the St Lucia Zouks, despite not being picked to bowl in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) final.

The decision not to bowl Cornwall, who recently came back from representing the West Indies in England, raised a few eyebrows.  But, the spinner has not been among the tournaments leading wicket-takers for several seasons.  In addition, Zouks captain Darren Sammy had a battery of spin bowlers at his disposal, which included Roston Chase, who took more wickets than Cornwall in England.

In the end, after making it to their first CPL final, as heavy underdogs, the Zouks fell short to the Trinbago Knight Riders.  Cornwall has insisted he was fit and ready to perform but his omission from the line-up was the captain’s choice.

“It was basically the captain’s decision; maybe it was his gut feeling to go for the other bowlers.  He thought he didn’t need me at that time so he went for especially his depth bowlers,” Cornwall recently told the Antigua Observer.

"The pitch was a spin bowlers pitch and I am always ready for whenever he calls on me and if he doesn’t then it is the case but I’m always set and ready if I am called upon,” he added.

 

Rahkeem Cornwall has only played three Test matches but if he gets to have things to go his way, he will be playing a lot more before he puts his bat away for good.

Mohammad Nabi’s career-best figures, the third-best in Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) history, led a spin demolition of the St Kitts & Nevis Patriots. He was well supported by Rakheem Cornwall and Zahir Khan, and Cornwall followed up with a brief but brilliant assault that took any remaining tension out of the chase for the St Lucia Zouks.

When Dwayne Bravo had Rahkeem Cornwall caught at cover during the Trinbago Knight Rider’s win over the St Lucia Zouks, history was created and although the magnitude of reaching 500 wickets in T20 cricket was not lost on the West Indies all-rounder, he has his sights firmly set on more.

The restrictive conditions of the biosecure Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has proven a difficult adjustment for some players, despite a general acceptance of the necessity of the measures.

After a three-month hiatus, cricket returned to the international stage earlier this month with the England versus the West Indies series, in England.  As the world continues its battle to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the series took place under extraordinary circumstances.

The Test series was played without fans and the players, along with everyone involved in it, were kept separate from the public, in a biosphere of sorts.  With considerably fewer resources than the England Cricket Board (ECB), the CPL has come up with its own version of a bubble in order to stage the tournament, but there are marked differences.

“The one in England was much different.  You could move around freely.  You could socialise a bit more with your teammates in England, but the one in Trinidad you cannot do that,”  St Lucia Zouks off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“When you first come to Trinidad you in the room for 7 days, isolated, and can’t come out.  Whereas as in England once you do the test and you are negative you are free to move about the facilities, you just can’t leave,” he added.

His St Lucia Zouks teammate, pace bowler Kesrick Williams, also shed more light on the specific conditions.

“It’s not the norm but at the end of the day it’s something we work with given the conditions in the world right now, with COVID-19…it’s not the best but we are working with it,” he added.

“When somebody is always telling you, you can’t do something, it's different than when you can freely do it.  For me, I’m usually in my room, but at the end of the day when someone is telling you, you have to wear a mask there, you have to wear a mask here, times for the food, times for gym and stuff like that and then the sanitizing and all that, it just leaves you feeling like you are in prison.  I don’t have a problem with it, but it's something we are not accustomed to.”

 

The St Lucia Zouks’ mix of smarts and firepower saw them home in a breathless chase after a heavy rain shower cut short a Barbados Tridents innings that started brilliantly but was derailed the Zouks’ battery of off-spinners. A late burst of four wickets for 11 runs in 18 just balls proved crucial in keeping the revised target in range, as the power of Rakheem Cornwall and the perennial excellence of Mohammad Nabi meant even Rashid Khan couldn’t deny the Zouks their first win of Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020.

With the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) set to begin in a matter of weeks, players like Rahkeem Cornwall have been looking at how to give themselves an advantage.

Cornwall is no different, with the big off-spinner hoping for a season like the one he had in 2019.

Known more as a bowling allrounder, last season Cornwall was immense with the bat for the St Lucia Zouks, scoring 254 runs in 10 matches, with a highest of 75.

“Obviously, it’s going to be different from the previous CPL where you have the crowd and so on, but at the end of the day cricket still remains the same. I would like to continue where I left off last year because I think I had a pretty good year in the CPL last year where I scored the most runs for the St. Lucia Zouks, and there is no doubt that I want to repeat that this year,” said Cornwall in an interview with the Antigua Observer.

According to Cornwall, players doing well is usually the result of hard work and he has no issue with putting in the effort that it takes to repeat that performance.

“I just have to put in the work and I think we have a couple of days or just over a week to get ready before the tournament, so I am sure I will be fine by then, and I will just keep putting the numbers on the board,” he said.

“As a professional, you have to know what you need to do to get yourself ready for a match. I think you just have to keep practising, and once all of the protocols [quarantine and testing] are over and you are out of isolation, then your mind would automatically switch back to cricket and you just have to know what you need to do in terms of your role for the team, and by then, hitting the 18th [August], you should be ready,” he said.'

Cornwall will again turn out for the St Lucia Zouks who will play their opening game against the Jamaica Tallawahs on August 19 at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.

Many have questioned the inclusion of Rahkeem Cornwall in the final Test of the #raisethebat Series in Manchester, England after the West Indies were thoroughly beaten by a strong England showing with bat and ball.

Cornwall, who went wicketless throughout the game, still feels his inclusion had value.

According to the offspinner, on another occasion, going wicketless does not mean he bowled badly.

“I don’t feel too bad about my performance and maybe on a different day wickets would have come my way, but I didn’t get any wickets. I think I bowled pretty well. Opportunities came about but it was just not my day to get wickets,” said Cornwall.

Cornwall has not been deterred by his performance in the least and believes there is only better for him to get.

“Going forward I just think that I have to work on my game and make sure I can perform under every condition that I might be going to but I wouldn’t say it was a bad tour, I just have to move on and learn from it,” he said.

Former England fast bowler Gladstone Small has branded the inclusion of off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall, for the final Test match against England, as a useless change and evidence of a West Indies squad that was overly conservative.  

The off-spinner was brought into the squad at the expense of pace bowler Alzarri Joseph for the decisive Test.  He did not do terribly in terms of economy rate but never really troubled the batsmen.

With Roston Chase a batsman and off-spinner, who was already taking wickets, already included in the squad, Small believes Cornwall only offered more of the same.

“I thought the selection of that team for the third Test was negative and wrong,” Small said on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“Cornwall? What was that selection about? What did he bring to the table? You’ve already got an off-spinning batsman in Roston Chase in the team? What does Cornwall bring to that team?  You have got to have variety to take 20 wickets in a Test match," he added.

"Straight away I thought they were just playing for time here.  They wanted to just dry up runs and play for time knowing that the weather was bad.  When you start a game in a negative frame of mind it's very hard to come forward and play front-foot cricket.  You have to start off aiming to win a Test match and play your best cricket.”

Cornwall bowled 27 overs in the first innings, with an economy rate of 3.15, in the second has was given 19 and had an economy rate of 4.16.  He did not get a wicket.

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