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This Kevon is living out his very own Wonder Years
It's Kevon. " He is quite specific about that. For all those who wonder what's in a name, ask Trinidad and Tobago's Kevon Cooper. It would be so easy to call him by the more popular name 'Kevin'.
Cooper was an unknown name till a week back. This tall cricketer (" 6-ft-6-inch, ", he would tell you) is a bowling allrounder, who can throw his bat around to good effect lower down the order. A medium-pacer, he has found the Indian wickets to his liking. "I know what these wickets are like, " the new Team Rajasthan signing had said before the fifth edition of the IPL kicked off. "I have played in the Champions League and I quite liked the wickets in India. "
As if to prove that, his first serious delivery during a practice game before IPL-V had Sreevats Goswami fending it off with much difficulty. It was directed at his throat, that too on a placid Swai Mansingh Stadium wicket. He was barely a day old in Jaipur and there he was, hitting the deck really hard.
"Watch out for him, he is good, " Raghu Iyer, CEO of Team Rajasthan, said. In fact, Rajasthan had done their research when they picked him up at the auctions earlier this year. He proved his worth in the first match itself for Rajasthan, picking up four wickets and smashing 11 off three balls. His first shot in IPL was a six. He had a couple of catches too. In fact, Cooper had a hand in the first five wickets to fall in opponent Punjab's innings. "Have been playing quality cricket for three-four years and I do believe in my talent, " he said. And he hopes his performance for Rajasthan will be noticed back home. "This is the biggest T20 tournament in the world and everyone will be following the performances here, " he added. His most potent weapon is the slower one, which has fetched him many wickets.
The road hasn't been easy for Cooper in his short journey in cricket so far. He was called for a suspect action during the Caribbean T20 meet last year. He admits to being confused. A stint in Perth for corrective measure found him back in contention for a place in the West Indies squad.
Teammate Johan Botha of South Africa finds him quite talented. "It's good that he has struck form early for us, " the better-known Rajsthan allrounder said. Cooper presents some happy options for Rajasthan. His success means they can allow Englishman Paul Collingwood stay at home.
As you delve into Cooper's life beyond cricket, a 'Kevin' connection can indeed be found. Like most West Indians, Cooper too hoped to make it big in football. In fact, one of his brothers named Kevin Molino turns out professionally for Orlando City in the US Major League Soccer. He also figures in the Trinidad and Tobago squad for the London Olympics. The sporting sibling's father persuaded him to take cricket seriously and when he made the West Indies U-19 squad, his priorities changed.
He had a good outing in the Bangladesh Premier League, where he played for Chittagong Kings. "It was a nice experience, " he said.
What strike's you most about Cooper is his gentle nature. Soft-spoken - you can even call him shy - and unassuming, Cooper is a man of very few words. He prefers to let his cricket do the talking. Perhaps it is too early to make a hero out of him, but then wasn't Shane Watson a similar 'hopeful' before he struck gold with Rajasthan in the inaugural IPL? Consistency would be the key for Cooper in the IPL matches to come and the game against Mumbai last week was example that life on the field is not always rosy.
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