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Cornwall deserves Windies pick

EZRA STUART in Antigua

Cornwall deserves Windies pick

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The wrong message is being conveyed to heavy-set Leeward Islands Hurricanes’ off-spinning all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall, says one-off West Indies’ One-Day captain Sylvester Joseph.

Joseph contends that selecting Cornwall for “A” matches where he is performing outstandingly and then not elevating him to international matches, is the wrong approach if the regional cricket authorities have concerns about his size and fitness.

“I don’t think he’s a liability at all. When you look at his situation, he is playing in first-class four-day cricket, One-Day matches and the ‘A’ team with our top fit players in the same competitions and he is doing much better than the majority of them,” contended Joseph, a long-standing former Leeward Islands captain.

The 25-year-old Cornwall hit two centuries in three Regional Super50 matches before heading to Jamaica for “A” team duties where he has captured 14 wickets and with left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican bowled the West Indies to an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match unofficial “Test” series against England Lions.

“He is getting more wickets and he is getting more runs than them. He is doing what he is supposed to do in the field. Why can’t he be given an opportunity at the highest level and they are getting the opportunity to go there?” asked Joseph, who led the Windies in a One-Day International against Sri Lanka in 2005.

Overall, Cornwall had taken 194 wickets in 41 first-class matches at an average of 24.97 with 14 five-wicket hauls while he also has a first-class century. In List A cricket, he has batting average is 44.25 and an economy rate of 3.25 runs an over.

Noting Cornwall is a very good close-to-the-wicket fielder and catcher, Joseph said his fellow Antiguan has been working feverishly on his general fitness while he understood Cricket West Indies sent him to Miami to see a nutritionist and the Leeward Islands Board has also been assisting him.

Joseph, 39, who played five Tests and 13 One-Day Internationals, said Cornwall should be selected for either the Test or One-Day squad, but he pointed out that both leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo and Ashley Nurse had also been performing commendably in the Test and One-Day teams respectively.

“I would give him a start in the Test team given that Test cricket is a lot more slower than the 50-overs and Twenty20. He will go between the Test team and the One-Day team as I believe he can fit in both teams. It is not just like you play one spinner and it has to be Bishoo. If you have a good off-spinner that can be effective, I think you can vary between the leg-spinner and the off-spinner, depending on your opponent or even play both,” reasoned Joseph.

“Bishoo has been around for quite a while and has earned his keep. Many thought he wasn’t given the opportunity earlier, but now he is at an age and a stage where, I think he is more mature and he has been successful for the West Indies team.

“To be honest, Ashley Nurse, with the opportunity that he has been given, is doing well in the One-Day team because I always say it is not just picking Cornwall because he comes from the Leeward Islands. If a spinner in Ashley Nurse is there and doing well, he has to do better than him,” Joseph stressed.

“But if Nurse dips in form, then maybe, he is the next man in position. It is not just picking Cornwall because he is doing well, but he has to understand there is another spinner or spinners that are in front of him now and they are doing well when they get the opportunity. So he has to wait his turn,” noted Joseph.

Joseph, however believes Cornwall should be selected in the Windies’ touring squads as the back-up spinner, who can also contribute runs in the lower order.

“He should be around. I don’t think they should be hell-bent on not picking him because of his weight and size. The more he plays at that level, his fitness will improve because if you want to be successful, you have to prepare yourself personally, mentally, physically . . . if you want to be a world-class player,” contended Joseph.

“When you go up to that level, and you see how other athletes prepare and how they are looking, the work that they put in, and you want to maintain your position, you have to work on your game, your fitness and your strength and conditioning,” added Joseph. (EZS)