Who is West Indies off-spinning giant Rahkeem Cornwall?

Jordan Carlisle July 23, 2020
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

With both England and the Windies set to make changes ahead of the third and final match of their Test series which begins on Friday, Rahkeem Cornwall looks likely to get the nod for the tourists.

But who is the already-popular player said to be the heaviest ever to play Test cricket?

Well, Rahkeem Rashawn Shane Cornwall was born in Antigua in February 1993.

Despite standing at 6 foot 6 inches, remarkably, he’s not the tallest member of the current Windies squad, with skipper Jason Holder taking that accolade. Yet, at around 22 stone, he’s certainly the weightiest.

The 27-year-old is a relative newcomer to international cricket but has been making waves on the domestic circuit in the Caribbean for some time.

Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Since his First-Class debut for the Leeward Islands in 2014, he has taken a whopping 303 wickets in the format at an average of 23.57.

58 of those scalps came during the 2018-19 season of the Regional Four-Day Competition when he finished as top wicket-taker and helped his side to a third-place finish in the table.

Cornwall’s huge hands allow him to put more revolutions on the ball than your average finger spinner, while he also has the ability to bowl long, accurate spells.

In his final First-Class outing before this season’s domestic competition was halted amid the global health crisis, he sent down a whopping 70 overs of tweakers at Guyana’s batsmen, picking up seven wickets against the then-reigning champions.

Far from a one-trick pony, though, the Antiguan has also proved himself capable of big contributions with the bat at domestic level, while he also possesses a safe pair of hands in the slips.

Although he has starred more regularly with the willow in white-ball cricket – even opening the batting for the St Lucia Zouks in the last edition of the Caribbean Premier League – he can dispatch the red-ball too, with a century and 13 fifties to his name in First-Class cricket at an average of 23.75.

Such impressive overall numbers couldn’t be ignored for long and after putting in the hard yards with West Indies ‘A’, Cornwall made his Test bow in August 2019 against India in Jamaica.

Rahkeem took the big scalp of Cheteshwar Pujara on debut but it was during his second runout, in a one-off Test against Afghanistan three months later, that he really announced his arrival at international level.

The Afghan batsmen were unable to get to grips with the turn and bounce the big offy extracted from the Lucknow surface on Day One as he took seven first-innings wickets on his way to match figures of 10/121 and the Man of the Match award.

Photo credit should read RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images

That performance secured him a spot in the squad to tour England and he can count himself unlucky to have only been carrying the drinks to date, with the selectors overlooking him in favour of a four-pronged pace attack.

In the era of sports science and marginal gains, there are very few hulking cricketers operating at the elite level. The bodies sported by England batsmen of old such as WG Grace or, more recently, Mike Gatting, would now be seen as an indication of unprofessionalism.

Rahkeem Cornwall, though, gives hope to rotund club cricketers around the world, that size still needn’t be a barrier to success.

Should he be named in the Windies XI for the final Test, those witnessing this skilful bowling all-rounder in action for the first time, are in for a real treat.

Jordan has worked as a football writer since attaining a Postgraduate Degree in Media and Journalism from the University of Glasgow in 2018. A sports lover in general, he's particularly passionate about cricket.