PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Popular off-spinning all-rounder, Rahkeem Cornwall, is set to make his long-awaited Test debut after being named in a 13-man squad to face India in the two-match rubber which bowls off later this month.
The burly 26-year-old is the only new face in the squad which includes uncapped batsman Shamarh Brooks, who was a part of the squad for the England series in the Caribbean earlier this year but did not feature.
Regular captain Jason Holder will continue at the helm of the side which stunned England 2-1 in the three-match series back in February, to retain the Ashes for the first time in a decade.
Cornwall has been the region’s leading off-spinner in recent seasons, having taken 260 wickets from 55 first-class matches at an average of 24, while dominating for West Indies A and domestic franchise Leeward Islands Hurricanes. He has also scored a hundred and 13 half-centuries and averages 24.
However, he had been ignored repeatedly, with many believing his size – he stands six feet, four inches and weighed nearly 300 pounds – to be the reason behind his non-selection.
But Cornwall’s returns have been outstanding ever since he burst onto the first-class scene with a scintillating 95 off 94 balls on debut against Jamaica at Sabina Park five years ago.
That season, the Antiguan lashed his maiden first-class hundred – a breathless 101 not out off 84 balls against Trinidad and Tobago – as he finished with 357 runs and 29 wickets at 26 runs apiece, from just seven games.
The following season, Cornwall gathered 367 runs along with 48 wickets at an average of 22 and followed up in the 2016/17 campaign with 388 runs and 41 wickets.
Picked for West Indies A’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2016, Cornwall snatched 23 wickets at 19 apiece and was similarly outstanding with 14 wickets when Sri Lanka A toured the following year.
Cornwall was also at his best last year, grabbing 19 wickets at an average of 18 as West Indies A stunned a strong England Lions side in a four-day “Test” series in the region.
West Indies take on India in the opening Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground on August 22 before travelling to Jamaica for the second Test at Sabina Park starting eight days later.
SQUAD – Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, Roston Chase, Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Shannon Gabriel, Rahkeem Cornwall, Keemo Paul, Shane Dowrich, Kemar Roach, Shamarh Brooks.