The West Indies are broken. Die-hard fans are hoping- perhaps, against hope- that the team would emerge unscathed in the 2019 World Cup qualifiers, where an in-form Afghanistan and a dangerous Ireland will be looking to impose themselves.
Standing 9th in the ICC ODI rankings, it appears that the road to normality is actually the world’s hardest summit to climb. With seasoned anchors like Gayle, Samuels, Badree ageing with there being an absolute uncertainty regarding Pollard, Bravo or Narine’s future, the feeling in the dugout is underwhelming.
The air surrounding the bunch of neophytes is of anxiety, with an uncertainty about the imminent future.
Apart from Shai Hope, Roston Chase or Alzarri Joseph, there’s no fourth name that strikes the mind speaking of youthful promise. Jason Holder is desperately looking out for answers.
Worries don’t end there.
With persistent confusions on account of selectors’ unsure policies- just the other day, Dwayne Bravo declared he never hinted at ending ODI career when a bold statement in the Caribbean press indicated the same- it’s a maze to know who’s in and who isn’t.
How long can a Kraigg Brathwaite continue to score alone in Tests and a Chase or Shai Hope in either formats?
Sadly, in West Indies’ case, the only indication of a move forward stems from franchise cricket leagues like the CPL. No one remembers what happened to the talents who participated in Regional Super50 three or four seasons ago. Do you know what happened to Kirk Edwards or Adrian Barath or, Krishmar Santokie?
So if there is a time to induct powerful, promising new faces, then it’s now. The team is, for all intents and purposes, young and still boasts of batsmen, with pace bowlers- Miguel Cummins and Alzarri Joseph- breaking in.
So if that is the way to forge a unit for the future, then so be it. West Indies cannot afford to sit idle, doing nothing to save the ship being sunk by the collective failure of the board and the abject inexperience of the current lot.
But fortunately, talent is still around at the regional stage. Rahkeem Cornwall- who’s just turned 25- has been in the news.
It’s been close to two years that he first gained the eye of the media, perhaps considerably so for his sheer imposing physicality. Selected to play for the West Indies Cricket Board President’s Eleven versus the touring England, Rahkeem impressed from the word go. Striking a 59 off 61 balls, he would go on to impress at the Regional Super50 2017, wherein the mighty right-hander carved 252 runs at an average of 50.
Not too bad for a mammoth weighing around 140 kg’s, who according to critics was tipped to spend a large proportion of his youth languidly jogging on a treadmill? But Rahkeem’s finest moment came in the CPL game against Barbados Trident. Playing for St. Lucia Star’s Rahkeem blazed 6 sixes and 7 boundaries in his domineering 44 ball 78 before being struck by Pollard in the groin region.
Being fair to Rahkeem’s passion for the sport, he’s pretty much made it count in every little opportunity he’s been given. Last year as Kohli’s India descended in the Caribbean to play an ODI series, Cornwall removed Pujara, Rahane and Kohli himself in a practice game, bowling those flighty, muffled off spinners before scoring a valiant 41. His contemporaries in domestic leagues- Kieran Powell and Jahmar Hamilton- note Rahkeem is a safe slip catcher.
In a sport that continues to lap dance around T20 extravaganza, can Rahkeem’s pulverising stroke-play afford him a chance in Windies’s briefest unit? We no longer see Bravo, Pollard and co. appearing for national duties, disputes still ravaging peace between the players and the board.
In the little close to two years, Rahkeem’s fiery all round stroke-play has dazzled audiences around the Caribbean and reminded believers in the Island nation that the Calypso flair is still around.
So why are the selectors sitting mute? Why not give the big man a shot for national duties? Do the West Indies have anything more to lose?