Youngsters looking to make a mark
Caribbean Premier League Media Release.
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - When the Antigua Hawksbills’ legendary coach, Sir Vivian Richards, picked Under-23 rising stars Jahmar Hamilton and Rahkeem Cornwall to bolster his 15 man squad for the inaugural Limacol Caribbean Premier League, the cricket world sat up and took notice.
As different as chalk and cheese in approach and looks, these young men do share common goals, a passion for cricket and a desire to give the fans something to cheer for.
Anguilla-based wicket keeper Hamilton did not take cricket too seriously until he turned 13, when he tried hard ball cricket and found he loved it.
“Soon I was playing for the Anguilla U-13 team in a regional competition in St. Kitts,” recalls Hamilton. “It was my father who encouraged me to become a wicket keeper. He basically said that if I wanted to make it in cricket I had to become a wicket keeper. At first I was not convinced but my dad said to trust him. I did and I have not looked back since.”
Faith and family are two pillars that have supported Hamilton and his mum is a key component of this. Hamilton says his mother named him “Jah” as in Jehovah, God of strength, to remind him that God is always with him.
It was this strength and belief that helped him recover from a horrific car accident three years ago, and defy medical expectations.
“I was involved in a car accident; the car was totaled and I received 20 stitches in my face. The doctor said it would take two months to recover but I wanted to play in the regional 20/20 competition which was a month away and I made it. My mum told me then that God has spared my life for a reason because He had something big for me to do.”
Jump forward to June 2013 where Hamilton is selected by the Antigua Hawksbills.
“This means so much to me and my family; I am now part of the cricket fraternity and the experience will be very good.”
His easy manner belies a determination to do well and an excitement about playing in the biggest sporting event to be held in the Caribbean. He hopes to emulate his cricket hero, Australian wicket keeper/batsman Adam Gilchrist whose technique he admires greatly.
“Gilchrist keeps it simple. He sticks to the basics and plays hard.”
When he is not honing his cricket skills the 22-year old runs his own business, a car washing company. A clean pair of hands and a mighty heart will surely give the fans something to cheer about.
Hamilton will be sharing a dressing room with such luminaries as Marlon Samuels and Ricky Ponting but also another rising star, Rahkeem Cornwall, who at 6ft 7in is the tallest, and at 20-years old, the youngest member of the team. When we caught up with Cornwall he was in the middle of a first class 20/20 tournament in his home country of Antigua and Barbuda.
Cornwall caused a major storm early this year when he hit a powerful half century against Jamaica in a regional competition, and pundits started predicting that this hard hitting youngster could go far. Interestingly enough, his entry into cricket came out of sheer curiosity. He says that when he was nine he would watch (former West Indies pace bowler) Kenny Benjamin and a group of youngsters practising at their local club and he wanted to join them.
It was not long before he was playing U-13, U-15 and U-19 cricket locally and regionally where Cornwall realised that his main strength is his batting.
“My best innings was the half century I scored against Jamaica in a super over. I really enjoyed it. I know that my strength is as at-the-depth batting but I can also bowl off spin.”
Playing for the Antigua Hawksbills is a major career leap for this young man.
“This means a lot to me especially as I am at the start of my cricket career,” said Cornwall. “It is an amazing opportunity and I will have to make good use of it. I’m excited and want the fans to know that we’re definitely coming to play.”
When he is not training or playing for his two local teams – Liberta and Piggotts – or carrying out his regional cricket duties for Antigua or the Leeward Islands teams, he spends his time fishing, another passion of his.
“I love fishing. I go every spare moment that I can get away from cricket. Fishing tests your patience and you have to concentrate.”
These same skills will serve this powerful batsman well come 1 August when the Antigua Hawksbills take on the Barbados Tridents at Kensington Oval.
Caribbean Premier League Media Release.