ST JOHN’S, Antigua – New West Indies head coach, Stuart Law, has underscored the value of the three-match one-day series against England staring in Antigua tomorrow, especially with the regional side already setting their sights on the 2019 World Cup.
With only the top seven teams in ICC one-day rankings as of September 30 this year earning automatic qualification along with hosts England, West Indies – currently lying ninth – are in danger of missing out.
“The main aim is to qualify for the next World Cup so these one-day games are extremely important to us, so that’s our main focus really at this stage,” the Australian said ahead of the start of the series at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
“I know we have Pakistan coming for T20s, Tests and one-dayers as well but the one-day series probably will take paramount importance.
“I’m not going to focus on becoming number one in the world at this stage. I’m focusing on building a culture, building a work ethic in the dressing room that will put the little bricks in place so they can be the best they can be.”
In their current position in the ODI rankings, West Indies would be forced to enter a 10-team qualifying tournament set for next year March, in order to secure one of the two non-automatic spots at the World Cup.
Already, the regional side have seen their lowly ranking cost them dearly, missing out on a spot at this year’s Champions Trophy in England, as only the top eight sides in the rankings qualified.
Law said having experienced that setback, it was imperative the regional side poured all their energies into reaching the marquee ICC limited overs showpiece.
“There always is [disappointment over failing to qualify]. It’s a great little tournament, the Champions Trophy – the mini World Cup – and to not be there probably isn’t where you want to be,” Law told reporters.
“You want to be in every one of those tournaments but it is what it is and we just have to make sure we have our heads screwed on for the one-day tournaments we play on upcoming tours and if we can win those, we get through and qualify for the World Cup – that’s probably the bigger one to worry about.”
West Indies’ immediate challenge will be facing a confident England who are ranked fifth in the world and who have lost just three of their last 16 outings in ODIs.
They boast a talented squad with the likes of captain Eoin Morgan Joe Root and all-rounder Ben Stokes all expected to play key roles but Law said West Indies would be looking to capitalize on their chances in the series.
“They (England) are playing an exciting brand of cricket. They go out there, they are carefree which can be extremely great to watch but there are opportunities as well,” he pointed out.
“They do offer opportunities – the more aggressive you are you can kind of not hit one clean enough and get caught. It’s going to be a great contest, that’s for sure.
“We understand that England are a team that’s way up there and we’re looking to build a solid unit to go forward as well, so we’re looking forward to a good contest.